ACC’s words not nearly as strong as one deed
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
All the names were there, and all the prefixes too: 12 Drs., two Frs., and one Mr., just so we’re clear on the level of seriousness the presidents of the Atlantic Coast Conference wanted to project Thursday. Somehow, those titles are supposed to add weight to a statement built around words like “commitment” and “united” and calling speculation that they’re all looking for the exit ramp “totally false.”
But this being college sports, where nobody really trusts anybody anymore and conferences like the ACC are bound together by little more than pinky swears and billable hours, it no longer matters whether the rumors are real, imagined or somewhere in between.
Each time the ACC puts out a trite statement with nothing to turn those empty promises into unbreakable bonds, it becomes more and more obvious: The future of the conference is at the mercy of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and the SEC’s Mike Slive. And until the ACC’s schools agree to a so-called “grant of rights” like the once-shaky Big 12 did last year, those solidarity statements aren’t worth the Internet bandwith it took to Tweet them.
A grant of rights, in case you haven’t been following the realignment carousel for the past 2 ½ years, is powerful because it requires schools to sign their media rights to the conference for the length of the contract. In other words, if Oklahoma wanted to leave the Big 12, for instance, it couldn’t bring its television rights with it to another league. In the case of the Big 12, that’s about $200 million.
And that matters. That binds. That can be taken seriously.
The ACC’s statement Thursday can’t.
No disrespect to the fine people who work at the ACC, including commissioner John Swofford, and the well-meaning presidents who are, at this very moment, surely as “committed” as they claim.
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