Source — Florida State among 4 ACC schools against adding Cal, Stanford

Andrea AdelsonESPN Senior WriterAugust 11, 2023, 08:08 PM ET4 minutes of reading

Adelson: Cal, Stanford to ACC is on ‘life support’

Andrea Adelson explains why California and Stanford face significant hurdles to join the ACC.

Four ACC schools are opposed to adding Cal and Stanford, it was confirmed to ESPN, but expansion discussions were not fully concluded until Friday night.

While no call is currently scheduled for the presidents to talk about expansion again, discussions continue in hopes of getting the 12 “yes” votes needed to add teams. Florida State, North Carolina, Clemson and NC State are opposed, a source said, confirming the news first reported by Sports Illustrated.

Two days after ESPN reported that talks between the presidents had hit “significant roadblocks” following a call between the presidents on Wednesday night, a source described the expansion debate as “on life support.”

Multiple sources indicate that the ACC has no deadline for making a decision, and a presidential call could be scheduled at any time. A referendum will only be held if there are enough yes votes. A source believes a decision should have been made during Wednesday’s call: “I imagine they don’t have much to discuss. I think the next item on the agenda is to make a decision.”

It is important to note that the opposing four schools are among the group of seven schools that have separately discussed the ACC rights grant and the way forward. The conclusion of a television deal with ESPN in 2036 gives the ACC a grant of affiliate rights to the league and the conference’s control over member schools’ media revenue and broadcast rights.

For Cal and Stanford, the clock is ticking when evaluating future options.

There is appeal among most presidents to include Cal and Stanford from an academic and Olympic sports perspective. However, it doesn’t have nearly as much traction among athletic directors for a number of reasons, including football, finances and the West Coast commute.

The ACC faces a $30 million annual revenue gap with the SEC and Big Ten, and the priority for athletic directors is to try to significantly increase revenue in the league. The ACC looked at expansion options over the past two years, but didn’t add any schools because they didn’t improve the conference’s financial situation.

That’s the case with Cal and Stanford; Neither school adds to the financial bottom line, sources indicate.

But there is another element at play that is more attractive than finance. Florida State President Richard McCullough told his board of trustees last week that unless there is a radical change in the conference’s revenue distribution model, the university should “very seriously” consider leaving the ACC, adding schools would help solidify the conference in the future.

Any team that wants to leave the ACC for next season must notify the league by Tuesday. Perhaps that’s why negotiations aren’t completely over, as the waiting game continues to see what Florida State does. While multiple sources indicate the Seminoles are unlikely to do anything by Tuesday, there is a bit of a guessing game as to what might happen.

By not putting any schools on the table and understanding that Florida State is serious about leaving, the Seminoles could open more doors to get what they want — a change in the way television revenue is distributed. Or maybe their voice won’t change anything.

More clarity is expected after the deadline.

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