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ACC to implement new revenue distribution model that rewards teams for postseason success

The Atlantic Coast Conference plans to change the way it distributes revenue to its schools, beginning with the 2024-25 academic year.

The ACC Board of Directors announced Wednesday that it has endorsed a “success incentive initiative” for postseason competition. Specifics have yet to be finalized, but the change coincides with the first year of the expanded College Football Playoff, which will grow from four to 12 teams in 2024.

The idea of rewarding schools for postseason success rather than equally distributing postseason revenue — from the CFP and NCAA tournament mainly — was discussed earlier this month at the ACC spring meetings in Florida.

In the most simple terms, a larger share of postseason revenue will go to the teams who actually participate in the postseason. All other revenues will “continue to be equally shared as currently outlined,” the ACC said in a news release.

The finalized plan will be completed “in the coming months,” the ACC said.

“The ACC Board of Directors continues to be committed to exploring all potential opportunities that will result in additional revenues and resources for the conference,” said Duke president Vincent E. Price, the chair of the ACC Board of Directors. “Today’s decision provides a path to reward athletic success while also distributing additional revenue to the full membership.”

FILE - This Sept. 7, 2019, file photo shows the ACC logo atop the chain marker during the second half of an NCAA college football game between Duke and North Carolina A&T, in Durham, N.C. There's a growing trend at Atlantic Coast Conference football games: alcohol sales to the general public. Now everyone can enjoy their beverage of choice at most ACC stadiums, not just boosters and donors. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File)
The ACC plans to change the way it distributes revenue to its schools, beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

ACC financially falling behind Big Ten, SEC

The ACC is lagging behind in revenue compared to some of the other major conferences in college athletics, particularly the Big Ten and SEC. The Big Ten has a massive new media rights deal going into effect later this year. The SEC, meanwhile, has an exclusive media rights deal with ESPN beginning in 2024.

The ACC is handcuffed to a media rights deal with ESPN that goes through 2036, which could cause league members to earn in the range of $30-40 million less annually than Big Ten and SEC schools. It’s been a major source of consternation throughout the league, with attorneys from an array of schools reportedly looking for potential ways to break away from the grant of rights agreement. There were even reports that a group of seven ACC schools had banded together for talks about a potential exit route.

Because of the grant of rights, the ACC’s membership has remained stable even as Oklahoma and Texas departed the Big 12 for the SEC and UCLA and USC left the Pac-12 for the Big Ten. But leadership from multiple ACC schools have been vocal with their concerns of falling behind major programs from the other top conferences.

ACC officials are hoping this new uneven revenue distribution model can alleviate some of those concerns. Florida State athletic director Michael Alford told reporters at the ACC spring meetings that reaching the CFP could add more than $10 million in revenue.

“Today’s endorsement follows significant and meaningful conversations by the ACC Board of Directors,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said. “To be certain, I applaud their thoughtfulness and continued commitment to working collectively. As we’ve communicated consistently, we remain dedicated to exploring all options to enhance support for our member institutions and their student-athletes.”