SBD/May 14, 2012/Colleges

Sources Say Many In ACC Upset With ESPN Deal; FSU Could Look To Big 12

Sources say that FSU is unhappy with the backloaded ACC-ESPN TV deal
Across the ACC, the conference's new ESPN TV deal "was seen as anywhere from a disappointment to a disaster," and for Florida State, it "may have been the last straw," according to sources cited by Dan Wetzel of YAHOO SPORTS. The first “shock to the system hit Wednesday,” when the ACC announced its 15-year, $3.6B extension with ESPN, which “sure sounded good in the press release." The reality "was bad, however." Sources said that the initial bump in television revenue is "actually just over" $1M a year, and a total in the $12M range next season. The deal is "back loaded so the bigger money comes in escalator provisions." Sources noted that the additional $4M per school from the deal “won't come until 2021, nine years in." Wetzel noted that “privately, almost everyone was troubled by the deal.” FSU Board of Trustees Chair Andy Haggard Saturday dropped a “bombshell” when addressing rumors that the school is looking to move from the ACC to the Big 12. Haggard: "On behalf of the Board of Trustees I can say unanimously we would be in favor of seeing what the Big 12 might have to offer." He added: "How do you not look into that option? ... We have to do what is in Florida State's best interest." Wetzel noted many in the ACC believe "this threat feels real." ACC football "has never lived up to its expectations." But if the league were to lose the Seminoles, "the future gets more difficult." A TV contract featuring Texas, Oklahoma and FSU "with ties into two of the most populous and most football mad states in the country should be better” than the ACC deal. Wetzel: "Whether that's enough to offset what sources say is either a $20 million or $23 million buyout to leave the ACC is another question." For the Big 12, the concerns "are few," as FSU "offers the national program its been seeking since Nebraska left for the Big Ten." Wetzel noted, "This is, by no means, a done deal or even a likely deal." Haggard's comments are "concerning for the ACC though and [a] potential game-changer for the Big 12" (, 5/12).

PLAYING FAVORITES?’s Gene Williams noted the ACC "surrendered all third tier television rights for football to ESPN/ABC but kept them for men's basketball." Haggard said, "It's mind-boggling and shocking. How can the ACC give up third tier rights for football but keep them for basketball?" Williams noted the arrangement "will likely result in substantial revenue for schools with a strong basketball following like North Carolina and Duke," but it will "do very little for schools with a more traditional football following like FSU, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Miami." Haggard: "It continues the perception that the ACC favors the North Carolina schools." Haggard "confirmed that as far as he knows there has been no contact between FSU and the Big 12 regarding possible expansion." Haggard said, "With the SEC making the kind of money it does it's time to act. You can't sit back and be content in the ACC. This is a different time financially. This isn't 10-15 years ago when money was rolling in" (, 5/12). FSU President Eric Barron late Saturday “felt compelled to issue a public apology to the ACC,” as “part of Haggard’s statement was based on misinformation regarding terms of the deal.” Barron went on to say that FSU is “not seeking an alternative to the ACC.” Haggard said he would back down from some of his comments if he "spoke on poor information." He added that he "remains concerned that the ACC isn't bringing in enough revenue to compete with rivals" in the SEC, Big 12 and other conferences. Haggard: "All I tried to say was I think Florida State needs to keep an open mind. If the Big 12 or the SEC or any other conference wants to talk, we have an obligation to listen. If the Big 12 calls, should we hang up the phone? No. I'm not saying take it. I'm saying listen to it" (TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT, 5/14).

MONEY TALKS:'s Chip Brown wrote at FSU right now "money is a problem," and the school’s basketball arena and football facilities "are in desperate need of renovation/upgrades." FSU officials are "probably taking a hard look at the ability to launch their own TV network in the Big 12." Brown wrote even with the new money from the ACC-ESPN contract, FSU is “going to be hard-pressed to raise the kind of money needed for a major facility upgrade" (, 5/9).
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