Should Florida State Move to the Big 12 Conference?
Florida State University is unhappy with the Atlantic Coast Conference and wants to leave. At least that is what is being shared on message boards, blogs and on sporting websites this month. At heart here is FSU’s unhappiness with the ACC’s latest TV deal, which some says favor the North Carolina schools which are dominate in basketball, although not in football.
FSU will get $17 million per year through 20262-27 when the current contract expires. That isn’t sitting well with at least one school trustee, Andy Haggart, who is unhappy with a deal that nets the Seminoles $4 million per year more than the previous contract. Haggart complained that the ACC gave up its third tier football rights to ESPN/ACC, but kept them for men’s basketball. Third-tier rights cover games not contracted by networks for broadcast, leaving schools to arrange broadcasting in-house. Typically, this means much lower revenue and, in this day of athletic programs costing schools tens of millions of dollars annually, the lower fees mean the schools are raking in less money.
For FSU to consider a Big 12 move, it will be only about the money. That conference, which has taken its lumps in recent years, managed to ink a deal with ESPN/ABC that will net each school about $20 million each year. Over 15 years, that is a difference of $45 million, an amount FSU wants and may get if it decides to move on and the Big 12 accepts the Seminoles.
Big 12 Possibilities
FSU isn’t the only school rumored to be looking to leave the ACC. Talk of Clemson moving to the Big 12 has surfaced in recent months too as the South Carolina school seeks additional revenue as well. The Big 12, newly emboldened following several publicized defections including Nebraska and Texas A&M, recently landed Texas Christian and West Virginia. With 10 institutions represented, the conference has room to bring it back to 12 schools with perhaps another two added on top of the twelve.
Unhappiness with a conference may not be enough to get FSU to leave the ACC. With the ACC, FSU is geographically close to many of the member schools, not so with the Big 12. The Big 12 fields teams located primarily in the nation’s mid-section, which would require FSU teams to travel hundreds of miles. Indeed, a contest in Lewis, Iowa, would take the Seminoles 1,162 miles from Tallahassee, maybe not a problem for football or basketball, but a steep traveling expense for field hockey and other sports.
Likely, the FSU’s blustering will have the ACC revisiting its member payout, perhaps immediately or with a promise to do so within two or three years, not 15. The good money is on FSU staying in the ACC with perhaps Louisville and Cincinnati poached from the Big East Conference to fill out the Big 12 Conference.