ACC leadership touts progress in trying to address financial gap with Big Ten, SEC

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AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — The Atlantic Coast Conference emerged from three days of spring meetings at a posh, oceanside resort with one resolution: the formalization of tiebreaker rules for the league’s new, no-division format.

Most everything else discussed behind closed doors remained secretive works in progress, most notably how the league plans to close the financial gap on college football’s preeminent powerhouses: the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference.

The ACC is a distant third in annual payouts to its members, a spot that was both chastised and celebrated at times during the meetings. The league remains ahead of the Pac-12 and the Big 12, conferences that are losing flagship institutions next year, but far back of the Big Ten and SEC.

It’s a less-than-ideal position that prompted Florida State athletic director Michael Alford in February to make a public plea for change and float the idea of joining a growing list of schools — Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA and USC — that announced plans to change conferences in the past two years to increase their bottom line. Three months later, Alford softened his stance and insisted he’s “optimistic about the future.”

“I’m thrilled with the work and the direction that it’s going,” Alford said this week. “Step in the right direction. We’re not going to ever cover the entire gap, but it will allow you to be competitive.”

Most in attendance said they believe a revised revenue-distribution model would help the most successful teams beginning with the 2024-25 school year. The proposal would send a larger share of postseason revenue to the teams participating in those events rather than dividing it equally.

The tweak would coincide with the start of the expanded (and more lucrative) College Football Playoff. If you make the CFP, you get a larger share. The men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament also would be divvied up based on performance, with deeper runs being rewarded.

Alford suggested the revisions could lead to more than $10 million annually in extra revenue for a school. The proposal still needs to be approved by ACC presidents and chancellor. League Commissioner Jim Phillips said a vote could be weeks away.