The “Georgia Tech to the Big Ten” rumor has apparently breathed its last, at least until 2027.
On Monday, ACC presidents completed a deal that would make such a move — any member school leaving for any conference — all but impossible with a “grant of rights” contract that not would not only financially hamper a departing school but also make it unappealing to other conferences.
“That’s a big deal,” Tech associate athletic director Wayne Hogan said of the agreement. “Huge.”
The contract was signed by the presidents of the 12 member schools — excluding Big Ten-bound Maryland — as well as Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which join in July, and Louisville, which will join in 2014. By the contract’s terms, any school that leaves the ACC surrenders its claim on the ACC’s media rights money to the conference for the remainder of the contract.
For example, if the Big Ten were to consider adding Tech to start play in 2014, the ACC would continue to hold the school’s television rights and receive its revenue until the conference’s contract with ESPN ended in 2027. Such a move would be crippling to Tech’s budgeting and would render the school virtually worthless to the Big Ten as a property.
As an ACC member, Tech will receive $12.8 million in television money for the 2014 fiscal year, fees that escalate to $22.7 million by the end of the contract. The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have similar grant of rights agreements in place, meaning the four leagues have essentially bound each other from poaching each other’s members.
“That, in effect, stops the music,” Hogan said.
Despite repeated assertions by ACC school presidents and commissioner John Swofford that the schools were committed to the conference and each other, as well as increasing an exit fee to $50 million, the league has been hounded by speculation that the Big Ten and Big 12 would sign away, depending on the Twitter rumor of the day, North Carolina, Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Virginia and Tech. Losing Maryland to the Big Ten did not help quell the talk.
But the league now appears set at 15 schools. Notre Dame’s contract extension with NBC, which will run through the 2025 season, makes it all but a certainty that the Irish will remain a football independent at least that long. The school will be an ACC member for all sports but football and ice hockey starting in the 2013-14 academic year. It will play five games annually in football against ACC schools, including Tech in 2015.
“I think this was a chance to look at each other in the eye and really commit something that was long term and meaningful,” Hogan said. “I think it’s a great day for Georgia Tech and a great day for the ACC.”