Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Thoughts On ACC Expansion

The college conference landscape has been shifting for years now. The ACC was a catalyst the first time conference members started bolting when Miami, Boston College and Syracuse originally tried to head to the ACC in 2003 to bring that conference to 12 members.

Ultimately, thanks in large part to heavy pressure from regional politicians, the University of Virginia helped pressure conference leadership into accepting Virginia Tech along with Miami instead. That of course made sense based on being a good geographical fit, and the similar academics and athletic programs involved.

Syracuse fell out of the deal leaving Boston College to wait a year before tagging along thanks largely to University of Miami President Donna Shalala, who spearheaded the entire process.

Once again, the conference is being proactive in solidifying membership numbers before there are no other options. The ACC is now officially an east-coast super conference and may not be done adding teams.

I've heard a number of complaints from Syracuse supporters upset over losing traditional basketball match ups like Georgetown or Villanova.

UConn appears to be trying desperately to follow along to the ACC, perhaps bringing along the underwhelming choice of Rutgers. There will only be a few traditional Big East rivalries in danger, and I'm sure those few important games can be added to the non-conference schedule in hoops.

While I'm overwhelmingly biased having long disliked the Big East and strongly enjoyed the ACC, I see far more positives than negatives in this latest move.

I'm still uncertain about the viability of a 16-team league, but it would appear that's the direction things are headed.

One thing is certain, the ACC now moves to the forefront of conferences in college basketball. With Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Maryland, Florida State etc., NCAA tournament bids look as if they will be plentiful in the new ACC.

Lacrosse will improve an already powerful conference line up with the addition of Syracuse and frankly the Big East schools moving over stand to improve all of their "olympic sports" programs with the move.

The Big East foolishly turned down a fairly lucrative television deal months back rumored to extend through 2022-2023 and worth between $110-130 million annually.

The ACC's current deal negotiated pre-expansion is already worth $155 million annually, that's approximately $1.86 billion over the same 12-year span mentioned above.

Large, evenly distributed revenue sharing leaves more money for non-revenue sports and has a beneficial effect on all conference members.

It'll take some getting used to the new, and in some cases old rivalries brought on by a new conference, but there's a lot to be said for having a stable home in these uncertain times.

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