Sources: ACC Chairs meeting this week as conference seriously considers adding Stanford, Cal, SMU

The ACC is seriously considering adding Stanford, Cal and SMU, multiple sources familiar with the discussions said Wednesday. There have been discussions periodically over the past month. Here’s what you need to know:

  • One of the sources said that a group of heads of the Administrative Coordination Committee met on Wednesday morning to discuss financial matters. Another group of chiefs is expected to meet separately as a small group later this week, and a meeting of the league’s sporting directors is also expected.
  • The ACC has held a number of meetings this month to discuss expansion and scrutinize the financial details that could make it possible, but has yet to hold a formal vote amid opposition from within the league.
  • A conference needs 12 out of 15 member schools to vote ‘yes’ to add any new members. Florida, Clemson, North Carolina, and NC State opposed adding Cal and Stanford when the league chiefs met two weeks ago for a poll.

What are the remaining obstacles?

Sources said multiple financial models are still being studied, ESPN first reported. And here will be the key to final approval. SMU is willing to join the ACC and accept no media rights royalties for seven years, and Stanford and Cal are willing to join as partial members.

Because ESPN has a pro rata clause with the ACC, full league equity will be paid for each addition. If these funds are pooled after partial equity payments to the Bay Area Schools, it allows the ACC to bring in new additional revenue that it can distribute as it pleases.

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The sources said this week that the expectation is that the money will be distributed on the basis of performance. So, success in football would generate additional revenue. This has been a sticking point between the four opposing schools. Florida State and Clemson have been particularly vocal about falling behind their SEC and Big Ten peers over the next decade, believing they need to bridge a gap that could extend to $30 million year-over-year in media rights payments. A performance-based model of additional revenue earned through expansion can help.

Two of the sources said they believe the ACC is closer to adding the three schools than it has been at any time this month, and that a final decision could be made by the end of the week.

Dramatic story

The addition of Stanford, Cal, and SMU would expand the ACC’s membership from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The ACC will join the Big Ten as the only powerhouse conferences with members on both the West and East coasts.

Stanford and Cal’s options are limited after five Pac-12 schools left the league earlier this month. If the Cardinals and Bears leave as well, the Pac-12 will be left with just Oregon State and Washington State.

SMU, a member of the American Athletic Conference since the league’s current version was formed in 2013, has been out of the major powers’ conference since the dissolution of the Southwest Conference in 1996. The Mustangs were reported as a Pac-12 expansion target earlier this year In February, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkov visited the school and was seen chatting with SMU officials during a Mustangs basketball game.

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