UNC AD Bubba Cunningham Taking Measured Approach for UNC as National Landscape Shifts

Bubba Cunningham Taking Measured Approach for UNC as National Landscape Shifts

Interesting article. This little bit is of particular interest.

UNC joined Florida State and Clemson in voting against conference expansion in September. They were outvoted, 12-3, in a decision that extended invites to Stanford, California and SMU. Those teams will officially join the league in 2024.

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Reading that gives you a feel for how a heavyweight ACC school feels about the current climate. They frankly sound much more ready to stay in ACC and keep working to overcome being behind SEC and BIG in yearly revenue. When i read that, i feel much more hope for their league and a future for it.


Maybe it’s because they know they really have no way out on the cheap. So might as well try to out lipstick on a pig!

The ACC GoR has 12 more years. I think we’ll see real movement in about 6 years when the exit will be far more affordable particularly FSU, UNC know that SEC/B1G and their $100M+ revenue awaits!

ESPN has up to February 2025 to give notice to the ACC whether they are extending the contract through 2036. ESPN can opt out of the contract effective 2027.

February 2025 is a very important month for possible conference realignment starting up again. It seems like an annual summer thing.

Cunningham said FSU is free to leave if they so choose…It will cost them 572 mil +…anyone leaving that league is a decade away unless some lawyer figures out how schools can avoid the penalties.

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But the ACC GOR doesn’t expire till 2036.

@aldineblue @Ron1102

The entire ACC-ESPN deal is mess, yes.

That being said, the provision essentially implies that it’s in ESPN’s court if they want to choose the option of extending the contract. It’s not up to the ACC. The ACC is obligated to adhere to ESPN by contract if ESPN chooses to extend, which, they most likely will.

Should ESPN choose to not extend, I believe the ACC still remains as a conference. From my understanding, FSU would still have to pay a conference exit fee to leave the ACC. However, they won’t have to forfeit any revenue they receive from their new conference (say the SEC) back to the ACC. FSU would get to keep their revenue from the SEC.

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You don’t know what you don’t know. Even the folks connected don’t know where it’s all going.

Ehhhh… I don’t think that’s all of it honestly.

The reason that UNC, FSU and Clemson were the only schools of the bunch to reject expansion is because expansion makes it much more difficult for the ACC to disband, which, would have voided any and all penalties both for the conference and with ESPN

As for everyone else: well it’s not that they are necessarily so passionate about remaining as a conference, it’s just the fact that everyone outside of those 3 schools (and maybe Virginia) don’t have certainty of landing in the Power 2 or Big 12 should the ACC crumble.

Adding SMU/Cal/Stanford also essentially locks the media deal from being renegotiated downward should the 3 schools (FSU/UNC/Clemson) leave the ACC. Not because the conference wouldn’t be worth the current deal structure, but because they simply wouldn’t have had enough teams in the conference to keep the deal in place.

If ESPN does not extend their ACC contract, does the GOR also expires? Of course we don’t know what’s in the contract, but the schools would be stupid to sign it if the GOR isn’t aligned with the ESPN contract.

From my understanding, the GOR does not expire.

The GOR has nothing to do with ESPN. All the GOR does is grant the conference the legal rights to broadcast its members’ home games for a specific period of time (in this case, 2016-2036). From that point, they find a media partner to broadcast said home games.

If ESPN does not extend the media deal, the ACC GOR still remains in place through 2036.

FSU is attempting to use this provision to void the GOR, which I think is a piss poor attempt because again, ESPN has nothing to do with the GOR. From what I recall, FSU is arguing that the ACC was not made aware of this provision at negotiations back in 2016, therefore, they shouldn’t be locked into the media or the GOR.

That being said, it’s highly likely that ESPN chooses the option.

@uhlaw97 would probably be able to explain much better or clarify given his law background

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All contracts require three things: offer, acceptance, consideration.

The problem with the ACC?

There’s no consideration in its contract after 2027.

No guaranteed money, and ESPN can unilaterally withdraw at that point.

To me, that’s FSU’s strongest legal argument against the GOR’s enforcement beyond that date.

THAT is not correct…They forfeit huge amount of revenue through life of the GOR…i read up on it tonight…There is a reason UNC AD said they would have to pay 572+ million to leave…the only way to not do it is for ACC to fold…And that would be incredibly difficult to do…Just look at Wash St and Oregon st keep PAC alive all by themselves…schools like BC, Syracuse, Wake Forest, Duke and Georgia Tech will work very hard to keep the league alive…ESPN is not going to change or void current contract, as that would be foolhardy in the extreme…

There are 2 different but simultaneous contracts here:

  1. The GOR (has nothing to do with ESPN)
  2. The media rights deal (has everything to do with ESPN)

The Exit Fee (part of the GOR) for any school to leave the ACC gets paid back to the ACC. Not ESPN.

The media rights deal with ESPN, as we know now, ends in 2027. However, there is a provision in the media rights contract whereby ESPN has the OPTION to extend the contract to 2036. The ACC has a legal duty to oblige to the extension should it be taken up by ESPN.

If ESPN decides NOT to take up the extension option, then why should FSU forfeit any new revenue in say the SEC, if there is no current media rights deal with the ACC since the extension wasn’t taken up by ESPN?

The only thing FSU would be liable for in this (non-extension) case would be the exit fee to leave the ACC, but they would get to keep all the TV revenue from the SEC’s media rights deal.

Everything about this deal was negotiated terribly, but that’s essentially the way I see it.

The FSU lawsuit against the ACC is basically arguing that FSU doesn’t have to serve the remainder of the GOR for this exact provision. Is it a legitimate argument? I have no idea.

Maybe this is FSUs strategy…create just enough drama that they force ESPNs hand in NOT renewing the media deal because they would be investing in disgruntled members

If they do that, the GOR penalties are way more palatable

espn extending at near the current deal would be beneficial for them.

Why would they want to pay more, or lose the top conference teams to a league funded by other networks?

It really doesn’t matter what FSU wants because it’s solely ESPN’s choice to extend the media deal.

Also, keep in mind that the brands that are so eager to leave (FSU, Clemson, UNC) are all projected to go to the SEC.

Guess who’s partnered with the SEC?


ESPN would essentially be paying those schools 3x what they make now if they went SEC. Is it really worth it for ESPN to let those 3 schools of their brand and caliber go scott free just to pay them even more?

ESPN has some of the best brands in the ACC at a bargain price right now


Just playing devil’s advocate (i.e. ESPN), while they would be paying these three schools much more than the $40 million they’re paying now, they would still save tons of money by dumping the rest of the 11 ACC conference teams.

At a savings of $40 million a piece times the remaining 11 ACC teams (nearly half a billion dollars per year), ESPN would have plenty of money to pay these 3 teams extra, and still make out like bandits, as well as strengthen their SEC brand versus the Big 10.

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Some of the 11 would go big12 and we have a clause with espn that if we invite a p5 , espn will pay them so maybe we take 4 or so. Espn would be paying clemson, Fla st , north car etc double what they make now so if 4 total go to sec and big10 then it’s like 8 cheap Acc teams going and still getting paid the 40 mil then big 12 takes 4 so you only have espn saving on the leftovers which might be 4 or so. They save some so maybe 40 mil x 4 or 5.


Agreed. That’s still a savings of nearly $200 million every year.

And control over 2/3 of the P3.

Whatever happens, it’ll be ESPN that will be the final answer, if not the driver, for all of this.