“We are not satisfied with our current situation,” McCullough said. “We love the ACC and our partners at ESPN. Our goal would be to stay in the ACC, but staying in the ACC under the current situation is hard for us to figure out how to remain competitive unless there were a major change in the revenue distribution. That has not happened.”
McCullough said he, athletic director Michael Alford and others have spent a year trying to “fix the issue.”
The ACC distributed an average of nearly $39.5 million per school for full members for the 2021-22 season compared to $49.9 million for the Southeastern Conference and $47.9 million for the Big Ten. That gap is expected to grow to $30 million a year once the power conferences add Oklahoma and Texas (joining the SEC) and UCLA and USC (joining the Big Ten).
And with the ACC mired in a TV deal with ESPN that lasts through the 2036 season, there’s no foreseeable way to close a gap that could see ACC schools fall more than $400 million behind some of their counterparts.
That kind of shortfall would hinder any school’s ability to keep pace in an arms race that includes recruiting budgets, facility improvements, support staffs and coaching salaries. No one in FSU’s virtual trustee meeting, however, suggested how the school might leave its current conference.
To bolt the ACC, any school would need to pay an exit fee of three times its annual revenue (approximately $120 million) and would need to navigate the grant in media rights to the ACC to be able to broadcast future games. If not, all TV revenue a school generates from a new conference would have to be paid back to the ACC.
*Return each day until the start of the college football season for more information and news to know as we gear up for another campaign.