New TV contract good for ACC and its commish

ACC commissioner John Swofford has done you and the ACC well.

While the rest of the college football world was dealing in expansion hypotheticals, Swofford was quietly dealing. He wound up with a 12-year, lucrative TV contract that “reaches new heights financially,” gives the ACC “unprecedented branding opportunities,” and gives each member school enough money that nobody should be looking to leave anytime soon. According to the Associated Press, the deal is worth $1.86 billion.

The stability of the ACC is the bottom line, and this contract provides plenty of incentive for the league to remain intact, despite the ever-changing college football landscape.

“In the ACC we look at our league as a very stable one,” Swofford said in a teleconference Thursday morning. “The financial and exposure aspects of this, as well as the opportunities with new media going forward, only increases that stability. … I think we’ve got a group of schools that are together for multiple reasons, not just financial -- though financial is one of them. But they’re together because they’ve chosen to be together and believe in the same kinds of values they want within a conference – tangible and intangible -- but it’s certainly important the business and financial aspects of institutional memberships in a conference is solid. This certainly solidifies that for this conference for the next 12 years.”

It also solidifies a positive, lasting impact on Swofford’s legacy as ACC commissioner. While ACC expansion has yet to produce the conference powerhouse league officials had once hoped it would, Swofford’s push to get it done and add the championship game has helped keep the conference on par with the rest of the BCS. Now, it’s the Big Ten that’s seeing the potential Swofford recognized in 2004 when Virginia Tech and Miami were added. (It’s certainly not his fault the Hurricanes tumbled out of the national spotlight.)

This TV contract is another move that will help the ACC stay competitive with the SEC and its other BCS counterparts. The SEC’s mega money television contract garnered a lot of attention (and for good reason), but this deal is unprecedented in that it takes over all of the broadcasting rights for the ACC. With the SEC’s contract, CBS retained a football package.

“I think it’s clear that this will cement John’s stewardship of the Atlantic Coast Conference as a preeminent academic and athletic conference,” said John Skipper, ESPN Executive Vice President/Content. “… I think John secured a very important financial deal for his institutions to ensure that they are able to keep up with what is clearly a landscape of growing fans. I would think this is a deal that cements what he’s done for the ACC. It’s also great for his fans, and I think it’s a fan-friendly conference and that’s an important fact as well.”

Under the new contract, ACC sports will be televised more regionally and nationally than any time in conference history. The distribution of revenue will continue to be equally shared.

Should conference realignment occur, there is a provision in the contract that would allow for further negotiations. But neither party seems to expect it to be necessary anytime soon.

“It’s clear the ACC is a very sound conference, not likely to change,” Skipper said. “In most of the discussions about conference realignment, there was very little discussion of ACC schools.”

And thanks to Swofford and this new deal, there’s unlikely to be much more.