One school’s role in ACC media rights deal
by Doug Blackburn and Ira Schoffel, USA TODAY Sports
TALLAHASSEE — More than two years of passionate, rampant speculation about Florida State University’s future with the Atlantic Coast Conference came to a screeching halt Monday with the announcement that the league’s presidents had unanimously agreed to a pact that effectively locks in all 15 schools through at least 2027.
The agreement, called a grant of media rights, requires any university leaving the ACC to forfeit all of its television revenue — hundreds of millions of dollars — through the length of the contract.
While some FSU fans claim to feel betrayed by President Eric Barron and the university’s board of trustees — the ACC is an inferior league, they say, and there’s far more money and prestige to be gained in the football-powerhouse Southeastern Conference — Barron and his board did not agree to stay put in a last-minute, dark-of-night deal.
Quite the opposite.
The wooing of Florida State and its rich football tradition was vital to the recently expanded ACC’s ability to renegotiate a top-dollar, long-term deal with ESPN, the network that holds broadcast rights to most of college football.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford needed buy-in from FSU, so he and the league’s TV consultant, Dean Jordan, made two previously unreported trips to Tallahassee during a six-week period before the conference sealed its deal with ESPN last week.
How it unfolded
Barron and the trustees were scheduled to discuss FSU’s future with the ACC during a workshop March 7 at the university’s marine lab in St. Teresa, Fla. The conference landscape had been shifting constantly for more than two years.
The ACC had added Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Notre Dame (as a partial member). The Big East was imploding, and rumors were circulating nonstop that FSU was being courted by the Big 12, Big Ten or SEC.
Barron knew his trustees were hearing it from various stakeholders on a daily basis. He understood they had … [For more on Anatomy of one school's role in ACC media rights deal, click here.]