The college football realignment carousel might have just come to a screeching halt.
The ACC’s council of presidents announced Monday that each of its soon-to-be 15-member institutions have signed a grant of media rights, effective immediately, likely protecting the league from poaching by other conferences.
“This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said. “The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential.”
Unlike the council of presidents’ solidarity statement last fall, which had no revenue commitment to back it up, this grant of rights deal fortifies the league from any possible advances by the Big Ten, SEC or Big 12.
A grant of media rights provision means the schools have relinquished control of their TV rights for the duration of the ACC’s deal. If a school leaves for another conference before the 2026-27 season, it forfeits those earnings, a penalty that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The ACC signed a 15-year, $3.6 billion TV deal with ESPN last May, with an average of $17.1 million distributed to each of its 14 full-time member schools per year. Although Notre Dame retains its TV rights separately with NBC, the part-time addition of the Fighting Irish is still expected to boost the ACC’s current deal, according to CBSSports.com, potentially up to $20 million a year.
The ACC currently has an exit fee that was three times the league’s annual operating budget — roughly $52 million — a figure agreed upon last September. Maryland, which is leaving for the Big Ten next year, has begun a legal battle to lower that amount.
All 15 of the league’s member future member institutions — including soon-to-be full-time members Pittsburgh and Syracuse, partial member Notre Dame and 2014 addition Louisville — agreed to the measure.
Of the five power conferences in football, the Pac-12, Big 10 and Big 12 have similar grant of rights agreements. The SEC is the only league that does not.