With Thursday's deal between the Atlantic Coast Conference and ESPN, ACC Commissioner John Swofford has sweetened the pot for his 12 schools, but the question remains: Will it be enough to keep the league intact?
The 12-year deal, which gives ESPN exclusive rights to ACC football and basketball and begins in 2011-2012, will not double broadcast revenues to each school as Swofford claimed in a teleconference Thursday.
It's "creative accounting," according to Jim Williams, sports media columnist for The Washington Examiner.
But the deal will bump revenues to each school from approximately $9 million to somewhere in the $12-14 million range.
While the increase makes the ACC more attractive to its member schools, will it be enough to fend off the Big Ten and SEC, which are looking to expand? With an interest in the lucrative Washington and Baltimore markets, which rank No. 8 and No. 22 in the nation, respectively, the Big Ten has Maryland on a list of possible targets. The SEC is believed to be eyeing schools such as Georgia Tech and Clemson. Both conferences have broadcast deals that give member schools $18-20 million a year.
It's ironic that Swofford finds his conference in this predicament. Seven years ago, it was the ACC that raided the Big East, adding Virginia Tech, Boston College and Miami.
As it chooses its next athletic director, all eyes are on Maryland, likely the first domino if the ACC is to fall apart.