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That ACC Network Thing? Uh, Don’t Hold Your Breath

frownFor the past year, members of the ACC have been living on edge.  It’s been the conference voted “Most Likely To Be Raided By Other Leagues.”  Money issues have been at the heart of the problem.  As in: The ACC and its schools don’t make as much money as the other four major conferences.

Before shocking the world with an out-of-left-field grant of rights deal a few weeks ago, ACC commissioner John Swofford had to make a near perfect sales pitch to league members like Florida State.  He did and all the conference’s schools signed on the dotted line.

Immediately, ACC fans (and some of us in the media) jumped to an awfully big conclusion — that the league would soon push forward a new ACC Network with ESPN.  ESPN had already stepped in to offer a bit more cash to the conference long-term in order to fend off further conference realignment, but an additional network was seen as the league’s best chance to close the financial gap on rival conferences.

However, The SportsBusiness Journal reports today that the ACC has not bought back the media rights it’s already sold off to Raycom and Fox Sports Net.  Those rights agreements run through 2027 and unless the ACC buys them back and turns them over to ESPN, there will be no new ACC Network.

This isn’t an oversight by the ACC, mind you.  Everyone involved had to know that without those rights, no channel would be possible.  Also, ESPN agreed to discuss the possibility of creating a network.  It did not agree to actually launch such a network.

For that reason, the topic of a network was not a hot one at last week’s ACC meetings.

If no new network launches, ESPN has agreed to kick in enough money to get ACC schools into the $20 million range annually.  At MrSEC.com, we’ve reported since last December that industry and SEC sources have told us that schools in Mike Slive’s conference could be making $30-35 million annually within a year or two of the launch of an SEC Network.

That network is already a done deal, thanks to a long-term agreement with ESPN.  And before reaching that agreement, the SEC bought back all of its media rights — television and digital — in order to turn them over to ESPN for use with the network.

While the ACC’s membership is clearly in favor of sticking together — they wouldn’t have signed a binding grant of rights deal otherwise — the main problem for the league has a growing cash gap.  Without an ACC Network, that will continue to be an issue for the schools in Swofford’s league moving forward.

Does this re-open Pandora’s Box when it comes to conference realignment?  No.  But it will probably give a lot of people reason enough to start writing about expansion again.  We’re heading into the blah days of summer after all.

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Bama Responds To Kentucky Call-Out On Vacated Wins

When the NCAA decided to tsk-tsk Kentucky regarding the “500th victory” celebration it held for John Calipari, it was opening Pandora’s Box.  By making sure one school wasn’t ignoring its past rulings on vacated wins, the NCAA put itself in a position where it had to be up to date with every other school’s media guides and websites.

John Clay of The Lexington Herald-Leader pointed out last week that Nick Saban was still being credited on Alabama’s website for five wins that were vacated from the 2007 season.

A UA spokesman, however, told Cecil Hurt of TideSports.com that while the website is wrong, the school’s media guide is A-OK:


“All of our printed material is correct.  We have consulted with the NCAA prior to any publication of our media guides and have been completely compliant.  In the wake of the situation at Kentucky, we have become aware of a technical issue with our on-line site, and we will correct that discrepancy.”


If Clay is suggesting that the NCAA is inconsistent and — as is often the case — is not completely aware of what every school is doing, we feel he’s correct.

But if Clay — or any UK fans reading Clay’s work — is suggesting that the NCAA is playing favorites, we think they might want to check Alabama’s track record with the NCAA.  For that matter, they should pick up a phone and call any Tide fan in the country.  ‘Cause if there’s any group that feels more picked on than Kentucky fans, it’s Bama fans.

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Kentucky Writer Notices That Bama’s Counting Saban’s Vacated Wins

And away we go. 

John Clay of The Lexington Herald-Leader has noticed that Alabama’s media guide and official website credit Nick Saban for five wins in 2007 that were actually vacated by the NCAA in 2009 due to a multi-sport text book scandal at the school.

By getting involved in the John Calipari situation, the NCAA has opened itself up to dozens of these types of issues.  While the Michigans and Southern Cals of the world are abiding by NCAA rules, several schools like UMass, San Diego State and — apparently — Alabama are not.

Unless the NCAA wants Kentucky fans and a bevy of anti-NCAA media types blistering the governing body for favoritism, it will have to start sending out letters to Tuscaloosa, Amherst, San Diego and various points in between.

It looks like Calipari’s record can also be referred to as “Pandora’s Box.”  And the NCAA opened it.

Ironically, the vacation of old victories is really a pretty light sentence when you think about it.  Fans don’t like the measure, but it beats the heck out of recruiting restrictions, scholarship limitations or postseason bans.

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