Solidified ACC ready to get serious about a TV network

Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

Commissioner John Swofford scored a major victory by getting the ACC's schools to agree to a grant of media rights, and now he's ready for the next step.

Now that the ACC has a grant of media rights deal in place, its future appears more solid than it has been since the major-conference expansion dominoes began to fall years ago. This concrete statement of solidarity makes it extremely costly for any school to leave the league, and an exit fee north of $50 million remains in place as well.

Additionally, the agreement helps the ACC's case for its own television network, which is the next step in keeping up with the other power conferences. The Big Ten and Pac-12 already have networks up and running, and the SEC Network is coming in 2014. Now that ESPN can shelve its concerns about the stability of the ACC, it is expected to be more amicable to ironing out a deal for an ACC network. ACC commissioner John Swofford believes negotiations will become more serious in the coming weeks and months, via SportsBusiness Daily.

"We've got the strongest collegiate TV market in the country," Swofford said. "We're now in a position to accelerate talks with ESPN, which were already ongoing, about a network."

The grant of rights deal, combined with the additions of Notre Dame (in all sports but football), Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh have done wonders for the viability and perception of the league in a short amount of time. It's an impressive turnaround for a conference that appeared increasingly vulnerable, especially after Maryland announced its departure for the Big Ten.

According to Andrew Carter of the News & Observer, ACC schools are set to make more than $20 million per year beginning on July 1. That doesn't include whatever revenue that will come from a television network, assuming it comes to fruition. While the ACC may never fully close the financial gap between itself and some of the other major conferences, it is making the sort of progress that is turning its previously tenuous position among the power conferences into a distant memory. That represents a considerable victory for Swofford, who worked diligently to get the grant of rights deal done, making this financial windfall possible.

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