C.W. Lambert Profile picture
Apr 11 22 tweets 4 min read Read on X
I have some legit insider information from a source in the sports broadcasting industry that I was going to write up and disseminate, but I don't have the time. So, I'm just going to spill the beans here and now and see who takes notice.
But first, do me a favor, remember who, what and when. Keep track of how many of the details I'm sharing tonight come to fruition.
ESPN has approached FSU, Clemson and the ACC about a potential settlement allowing the Seminoles & Tigers to leave the ACC whenever they want. But an ESPN brokered deal is only possible if FSU and Clemson leave for the SEC. Why? I'm glad you asked.
ESPN is the exclusive rights holder for both the ACC & SEC. Moreover, ESPN is a partner in both the ACCN and SECN. ESPN would not lose money if FSU & Clemson are in the SEC as opposed to the ACC.
The basics of the potential settlement are:
1. FSU & Clemson would pay an exit fee equal to what Texas & Oklahoma paid to exit the Big 12 + a %.
2. The ACC would retain the rights to FSU & Clemson home games BUT license those rights to the ESPN for SEC broadcasts.
3. The ACC receives 50% of the fair market (SEC) value of FSU & Clemson home games in both football & basketball. The % the ACC receives would decrease each year of the agreement.
4. ESPN would pick up the option on the ACC's contract until 2036, but would renegotiate terms to reflect the loss of value from losing FSU & Clemson.
5. The SEC - namely FSU & Clemson - would be contractually obligated to play a top tier ACC program each year.
My source tells me the details above are the initial - opening proposition and they will change slightly as negotiations change the details, but the basics will remain the same. Why? I'm glad you asked.
The proposed settlement mitigates the damages to everyone. The ACC survives because ESPN picks up the option to 2036. But their losses will be offset by the % of the FSU & Clemson rights they retain.
FSU & Clemson win by leaving the ACC. 50% of SEC is more than 100% of ACC money and each year they claw back a % of their home media rights.
Everyone saves legal fees and public embarrassment. Expect the % the ACC receives of FSU & Clemson's TV rights to be negotiated down from the starting point of 50%. 35% is more likely the starting point. Expect that to drop by 3-5% each year until its 0.
But you can expect the ACC will retain some % of FSU & Clemson's rights until 2036.
My source pointed out it's critical that the ACC negotiate in good faith and accept the survival of the conference depends on the acceptance of this offer at the best terms they can negotiate... but the ACC doesn't have much leverage.
If the ACC doesn't settle with FSU & Clemson, then ESPN will not pick up the option on its TV contract. They will have no TV revenue beginning in 2027 and the conference will breach the terms of the GoR thus voiding it.
Expect a settlement in time to allow FSU and Clemson to begin SEC play in 2025/2026.
And yes, ESPN will pressure the SEC to take them both. Why? ESPN has accepted the inevitable departure of FSU & Clemson from the ACC. ESPN losses considerable money if FSU and Clemson end up in the Big Ten. ESPN will do everything it can to avoid that scenario.
But, here's a warning to the ACC and its fans. The ACC can't play hardball. If it becomes clear the ACC and FSU/Clemson can't reach an agreement, then ESPN will promptly decline the 2027 ACC option and engineer the move of the ACC's top football properties to the SEC & Big 12.
The Big 12 would benefit the most from the ACC's refusal to use common sense and avoid disaster. But it would necessarily be an economic boon the Big 12. Think pro rata additions... plus a contract extension that gives the Big 12 security until 2036.
The takeaway is this... The ACC can save itself by being pragmatic. But an agreement of this nature requires that all parties involved use common sense and see the writing on the wall clearly.
Unfortunately, it's not an automatic that the ACC realizes its predicament and accepts it has no choice but listen to ESPN. There's a fault line running through the ACC that divides its membership in half.
Some, like UNC, are going to be unhappy. The question is will the ACC's new contract - resulting from a settlement - pay schools like Louisville, Miami, NCST, and VT enough? Will the renegotiated contract pay enough to win a supermajority of votes needed to approve a settlement?
Here's my advice to the ACC... remember what happened to the Pac 12.

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More from @InsideTheBig12

Jul 28, 2023
The Pac 12 has put on a master class of incompetence enabled by entitled hubris. I'm not sure why George Kliavkoff still has a job. But he's not the one to blame despite his failings... and he FAILED....
The blame belongs to the presidents and chancellors of the Pac 12. They enabled Kliavkoff, none a single one of them demanded answers or pointed out their Titanic was about to collide with an ice berg. Why?
The Pac 12 can boast about their academic superiority all they want. They can pat themselves on the back all day long. But they were not smart enough to avoid doom.
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