SBD/May 16, 2012/Colleges

FSU Officials Decline Comment On Conference Allegiance

FSU President reiterates that he is committed to staying in the ACC
The speculation about Florida State Univ.'s future conference allegiance “took a chilly turn Tuesday afternoon when, for the first time in four days, an FSU official declined to comment on the conference realignment inferno that has blazed around the Seminoles' athletic programs,” according to Coley Harvey of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. FSU AD Randy Spetman yesterday said he was not "making a statement today" on rumors the school would leave the ACC for the Big 12. Yesterday’s “closed-lipped stance appears to reflect a newfound, larger scale policy FSU administrators have adopted in recent days.” As the conference expansion talk “continues to stir around them, they have finally begun speaking with a singular voice.” FSU President Eric Barron on Monday sent an e-mail to boosters to say he is committed to the ACC. Coley writes by “avoiding discussing the matter with reporters, Spetman, for now, has given Barron the last word” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/16).

ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN: ESPN Senior VP/College Programming Burke Magnus addressed the ACC-ESPN deal in a statement through the company's internal PR site Front Row, and said, “We want to take the opportunity to explain a few key facts related to our ACC agreement. First, a rights fee payment schedule that escalates in amount over the term is a commonplace provision in major college conference deals.” He added, “Secondly, the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse as ACC members triggered a composition clause in the existing agreement. This clause is designed to allow for both partners to address the value of the conference taking into account the change in membership. There was no specific valuation formula based on total number of schools or on a per school basis. It is not an ‘out clause’ nor does it trigger a complete renegotiation of the entire agreement.” Magnus continued: “Lastly, the term ‘third-tier rights’ means different things in different conference agreements. In the new ACC extension (as was the case in the original 2011-2023 agreement), ESPN retains exclusive rights to all football and men’s basketball games. Additionally, ESPN retains the first selection rights to women’s basketball and all other ACC sports such as baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, etc. Whatever is not selected for coverage and distribution by ESPN from these sports is retained by the member institutions” (FRONTROW.ESPN.com, 5/15).

CHIMING IN: The ORLANDO SENTINEL's Harvey writes Mangus' statement was “in response to widespread confusion about the terms of its deal with the ACC” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/16). In Virginia, David Teel wrote Magnus’ statement came amid “fans, media and an ill-informed board chairman parsing the ACC’s new media package with ESPN.” Magnus “debunked Florida State Board of Trustees chair Andy Haggard’s angry assertion that the ACC had ceded third-tier football rights to ESPN while retaining them for men’s basketball.” With investments in the ACC, Big 12 and other major conferences, ESPN “figures to tread lightly in realignment matters.” But given the “just-completed agreement with the ACC, you have to believe the network would prefer the Seminoles and their football program, in decline of late but still a national brand, remain part” of the conference (DAILYPRESS.com, 5/15).
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