ACC expansion: Conference renews discussions to add Stanford, California, SMU at reduced price, per reports

The ACC has renewed conversations of adding California, Stanford and SMU, according multiple reports. There is renewed optimism that Cal and Stanford can make a deal with the ACC, sources subsequently told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.

A group of ACC presidents met Wednesday morning to discuss potential financial models that could make sense. If admitted, the schools would come at a far lower price point: Cal and Stanford would receive an equal lesser shares, while SMU is supposedly willing to abstain from media payouts for up to seven years, per ESPN.

The addition of three schools would unlock further compensation from television partners, according to ESPN. But with the three potential additions willing to take less money — one of them none at all — additional funds could therefore be distributed to existing members. The ACC distributed nearly $40 million per school for the 2022 calendar year, and numbers should continue to go up with escalators in the league’s lengthy television contract with ESPN. 

Several ACC schools have been openly lobbying for additional revenue pathways in recent months after the Big Ten and SEC signed massive new television contracts. The ACC previously endorsed an incentive-based initiative to reward high-achieving programs with additional revenue based on postseason success. The details are still being worked out, but the incentive programs is expected to start in 2024-25, the first year of the expanded College Football Playoff. 

The ACC requires 12 votes out of 15 schools (including Notre Dame) to admit a new school. Four schools previously held out: North Carolina, NC State, Clemson and Florida State. Only one school must change its vote for the three new schools to be admitted. A decision could come within the next week, according to ESPN

The ACC’s discussion comes in the wake of the Pac-12’s erosion one year after USC and UCLA announced plans to leave for the Big Ten. Oregon and Washington followed at a reduced share, while Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah joined the Big 12 as full-share members. If Stanford and Cal both join the ACC, Oregon State and Washington State would be the Pac-12’s remaining schools.

The two remainders have received overtures from both the Mountain West and American Athletic Conference in recent weeks. However, no decision has been made on their future. 

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