SBD/June 7, 2013/Colleges

ACC's Swofford Says Grant Of Media Rights Was Critical For League's Future

Swofford said some ACC schools were very interested in playing games in Europe
ACC Commissioner John Swofford said the conference's grant of media rights was "something that in this day and age -- and at this given point in time -- was extremely critical to our league going forward. It puts us in a position where there are and will be opportunities for us that would not have existed had we not taken that step." Swofford, appearing on "The David Glenn Show" syndicated radio program in N.C., added, "It puts an end to what I think were mostly rumors, but still negative rumors. Negative perceptions can sort of chip away at any conference, any organization. This put that to bed." He said of the ACC's footprint, "We’re at 105 million, I think, in terms of population, and similar number in terms of television households. That’s greater than any other conference. It’s projected to grow over the next 15 years. We put a lot of analysis into evaluating and putting together the reasoning behind why we should take the step to going to a grant of rights with our schools." Asked of the possibility of the ACC playing games in Europe, Swofford said, "We’re in the early points of discussion about that. I brought it up to our schools, and they were very interested in pursuing that." He added, "I think it’s something that could be an excellent experience for the student-athletes that would participate, and for our schools. Most all of our schools have international campuses, now. It’s something that we’re serious about, but we’ve got a ways to go in terms of the particulars and the logistics of trying to pull that off" (ACCSPORTS.com, 6/5).

HOOPS HYPE: ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus said of the ACC's grant of rights, "I think they recognized in order to quell the conversation -- real or imagined -- about their perceived instability, they needed to demonstrate in the most meaningful way there was solidarity and shared purpose. That allows them to operate without the specter of realignment and reach their full potential. They're in the process -- especially a year from now with Louisville -- of having a spectacular basketball conference, the likes of which we've probably never seen. The promise is there in football. They would recognize they could be better in football." Magnus said of the impact a good basketball conference can have financially for a network, "I think what the ACC has created could in many ways redefine what's possible in college basketball in terms of fan interest. When you have the likes of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Louisville joining Tobacco Road along with their other basketball brands, there are real possibilities there. We're going to move them into our franchise Big Monday slot with the Big 12 so they'll have early games on Monday nights" (AL.com, 6/6).

WORK IN PROGRESS: Magnus said that ESPN has "not gone beyond 'initial conversations' with the ACC on the channel concept." CBSSPORTS.com's Jeremy Fowler noted there are "still serious hurdles to clear for a channel to happen." Step one is "what to do with Raycom" and its syndicated rights. It seems "unlikely that Raycom would sell back to ESPN on the cheap, and the ACC knows this." A source said the ACC plans to "make the deal 'enticing' for Raycom and will probably have to come out of the pocket to secure a successful sell" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/5).
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