Breaking news: FSU breaks ACC in fight

Florida State’s restructuring demand shows the university is ready to challenge the ACC in its fight for survival.
If Florida State leaves the ACC, the conference will explode like the PAC-12.
The split between Florida State and the ACC is inevitable, but as we’ve seen, it’s not easy.

    Florida’s first pitch in December made the game clear. The university believes it is important to the survival of Seminole football and its athletic ability to compete at the highest level and leave the ACC by any means necessary.

   The Seminoles lose millions of dollars each year because of the ACC’s mishandling of television rights. This is a critical investment for FSU to compete in the ever-growing field of college sports.
In an amended complaint filed this week, the State of Florida has more than a decade of anger over Congressional mishandling of business. Recent news about the original media coverage of the ACC deal with ESPN and Raycom in 2011 puts the conference in jeopardy today.

The committee found that then-ACC commissioner John Swofford was “self-consumed” by keeping Raycom (and Swofford’s son Chad Swofford, director of Raycom Sports since 2007), resulting in a loss of $82 million in television rights revenues. as usual he blamed me directly for the job. And the ACC? The league signed a controversial retroactive deal with ESPN in 2011 that has contributed to the conference’s woes to this day. The ACC gets the same revenue as the SEC and Big Ten from the primary television rights, but the league signed away all of its third-party rights to ESPN as part of the deal, which is free.

   ESPN gives Raycom Sports $50 million a year that doesn’t have to be shared with the conference. This was done at the request of John Swofford, the AC commissioner at the time, who wanted to keep Raycom as ACC TV’s partner in television negotiations. Swofford said this is due to Raycom’s longstanding relationship as a media partner with the ACC. But Swofford’s son is a Raycom director, and keeping the ACC rights was the lifeline Raycom needed after losing the SEC rights a year ago.

   Whether it’s a bad example of nepotism or a lack of consideration for where college media rights come from, it’s been a noose around the league’s neck ever since.
Maryland specifically cited the ACC’s lack of television revenue in its decision to join the Big Ten the following year.
Attempts to negotiate a contract with ESPN resulted in more offers for less. The original ACC rights grant was created in 2013 after Notre Dame agreed as a way for ESPN to increase its media spending, and in 2016, GOR was extended to 2036 to upgrade ESPN with the creation of the ACC Network.

Another main focus is error handling after building the ACC network. Swofford is accused of lying to ACC members about an ESPN ultimatum issued at a meeting in 2016. Swofford and ACC officials told the school that if ESPN wanted to build on the ACC network, its car delivery would have to be extended. Until 2036. However, there is no documentation of such a request from ESPN, nor did the ACC receive any additional financial benefit from ESPN for extending the rights grant.

   The complaint also states that ACC schools spent between $110 million and $120 million to prepare for the launch of the ACC Network. Tomahawk Nation cited costs associated with networking as one of the reasons FSU’s annual numbers increased under former athletic director Stan Wilcox.

Former athletic director Stan Wilcox replaces Randy Spetman. In the Tomahawk Nation article about Wilcox’s hiring,
asked, “How much do you know about media rights, digital rights, third-party rights and the economics of it?” One source asked him why he didn’t think people born before 1970 understood these things well. He wants to know how much Wilcox knows about these matters and if he has anyone to help him with that aspect of the job.

   The answers to these questions continue to influence FSU to this day. Wilcox was a strong supporter of FSU’s admission to the ACC and later the ACC Network. Wilcox said the ACC network could bring $15 million a year to Florida State athletics. Because of these projections, Thrasher did not object to extending the ACC rights grant to 2036 as a condition of ESPN launching the ACC Network. Unfortunately, investments led by ESPN left Florida State athletics with an annual decline of nearly $4 million before Wilcox stepped down to take the NCAA position in 2018.

   The ACC Network received new funding but it came with upfront fees and long contract terms. Eventually, the results will be ineffective. Also, as cord-cutting continues, subscriber prices for conference networks will drop significantly through 2036.

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