May 21, 2024

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips bullish on league even with futures of Florida State, Clemson up in air

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — The future of Florida State and Clemson, amid ongoing litigation in opposition to the Atlantic Coast Conference, loomed over the ACC spring conferences this week, however commissioner Jim Phillips remained optimistic that these relationships might nonetheless be salvaged.

The convention is presently embroiled in a number of lawsuits with Florida State and Clemson as the 2 colleges legally problem the ACC’s grant of rights and place themselves to presumably go away the convention. At the middle of the dispute is the ACC falling behind rival conferences the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference in income, a disparity that may solely develop beneath the brand new College Football Playoff distribution mannequin. 

Florida State and Clemson leaving the ACC has lengthy felt like a fait accompli, solely amplified by the a number of lawsuits which were filed, and but Phillips, one of the nicest individuals in a cutthroat trade, insisted that he was going to remain constructive about all potential outcomes in the face of mounting proof of an impending divorce. 

“I’m always optimistic about a really good ending on a difficult situation,” Phillips stated. “I’ll never change until somebody else tells me differently. Am I going to fight and protect the ACC? Absolutely. I have to do that. That’s my responsibility.”

Phillips got here off extra bullish concerning the probabilities of the connection being salvaged than Florida State athletic director Michael Alford who was requested the same query a day earlier. Alford was cautious to solely communicate positively concerning the nice relationships the college loved inside the convention and appeared grateful that FSU was included in all conferences this week in Amelia Island. But when requested about whether or not the wedding might nonetheless be saved, Alford stated, “We’ll just wait for that to play out” and that “we’ve got to do what’s best for Florida State and look at the changing environment of collegiate athletics and make sure we’re there to be successful.”

The public optimism expressed on the conclusion of the ACC conferences doesn’t imply Phillips isn’t annoyed by the scenario, nevertheless. He reiterated Wednesday that Florida State and Clemson’s actions aren’t useful and frightened that they’re overshadowing all of the constructive issues taking place inside the convention. 

“It’s difficult, it’s disruptive, it’s harmful but that’s world we live in,” the ACC commissioner stated. “They have their ability to do the things they are doing and we’ll let the legal folks handle it because that’s the right thing to do.”

Not solely is the convention dealing with lawsuits from Clemson and Florida State difficult its ironclad grant of rights, however the league can be dealing with questions on its prolonged tv media contract with ESPN that runs by means of 2036. Florida State claimed in a lawsuit filed in December that the ACC’s deal with ESPN features a unilateral possibility for the community that have to be executed in February 2025 to increase the deal by means of 2036. In essence, ESPN might nix the contract and step away in 2027.

Phillips, nevertheless, reiterated Wednesday that the convention’s enterprise relationship with ESPN is robust.

“I can’t go into the details on it but the partnership is not going away or going to be affected in a negative way at all,” he stated. “It’s a look-in and we’re handling some of what that particular element of the contract states.”

ESPN’s contract will not be out there for public consumption, and the one particulars to leak have come by way of the 5 ongoing lawsuits among the many ACC, FSU and Clemson. When requested if the look-in provision permits for a change in the monetary construction of the settlement, Phillips declined to substantiate. “I won’t discuss that publicly because we haven’t got to the finish line yet on what we’re talking about,” he stated.

Theoretically, increasing the convention with the additions of SMU, Cal and Stanford in the autumn might assist these monetary figures because the ACC Network faucets into the Dallas and Northern California tv markets.

“We have full distribution in our current states and our current markets, and that was something when I came in three and a half years ago I heard angst about: we’re not in all markets of where our school are (located) and we’re not getting the revenue off of that when you’re not in the market,” Phillips stated. “So we’ve been in full distribution — and that’s the goal as we get into Northern California and into Dallas.”

If a number of lawsuits, the looming risk of Florida State and Clemson defecting from the convention, and the potential settlement of the House v. NCAA lawsuit resulting in a seismic shift towards revenue-sharing (as a lot as $22 million per college yearly) weren’t sufficient to make an accountant’s head spin, the ACC remains to be combing by means of the main points of “success initiatives” proposed by Clemson and Florida State 18 months in the past that will reward packages financially for on-field and on-court success. 

Phillips and athletic administrators once more didn’t elaborate on the particulars of the mannequin, which can issue in regular-season and postseason success and is anticipated to lean closely on soccer success. Sources instructed CBS Sports that cumulative bonuses for a group that wins the nationwide championship might balloon up to $20 million in one idea mentioned amongst leaders. A primary-round look in the brand new 12- or 14-team playoff would reward the group with a $4 million bonus, sources stated.

Florida State and Clemson have dominated the realignment dialog as a result of of their lawsuits, however that income unhappiness isn’t restricted to these two ACC colleges. A University of North Carolina trustees assembly, which delved into trustees being upset about how UNC AD Bubba Cunningham managed the athletic division income, included one trustee pushing for the college to think about leaving the convention it helped create in 1953. Cunningham instructed CBS Sports earlier this week he didn’t have a response to it and could be ready for a trustees assembly on Thursday. 

“I am advocating for that,” trustee Dave Boliek stated throughout the assembly. “That’s what we need to do. We need to do everything we can to get there. Or the alternative is the ACC is going to have to reconstruct itself. I think all options are on the table.”

Phillips stated Wednesday he hoped to study extra concerning the scenario when he returned to the convention’s Charlotte headquarters, however thus far nobody from the college had stated something to him or the league a few want to depart. 

“Those are campus discussions and campus politics that are going on so I don’t know what’s true and what’s not,” he stated.