Category: ACC Published on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 11:30 Written by Tallahassee.com Hits: 240
One of the hallmarks of the Atlantic Coast Conference is that it traditionally operates with a more genteel approach than some of its more brash brethren in college athletics.
So it comes as no surprise that Commissioner John Swofford has yet to comment publicly about a rocky week that started with its marquee football program flirting with other conferences and continued with a national columnist portraying the league's new television contract as a potential "disaster."
When the ACC's annual spring meetings conclude here late this morning, Swofford is expected to address the media about those and other topics. He likely will express confidence that Florida State remains committed to the conference, and he certainly will try to paint the TV rights deal in a better light.
The league's television partner, ESPN, started that process on Tuesday with the release of a blog post by Burke Magnus, the network's senior vice president for college sports programming.
Magnus started his piece by stating that he wanted to clear up "widespread speculation and confusion" about the new deal, which will run through 2026-27. He tackled several subjects, but his primary target appeared to be a piece by Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel, who quoted unnamed sources as saying the contract was panned across the league because it was "back loaded," with the largest payouts coming years down the line.
In his rebuttal, Magnus objected to the notion that those terms were a slight to the ACC; he called the practice "the industry standard."
"First, a rights fee payment schedule that escalates in amount over the term is a commonplace provision in major college conference deals," Magnus wrote. "This arrangement is not unique to the ACC. The pre-existing agreement between ESPN and the ACC (that carried through 2023) had an escalating rights fee schedule and the deal we announced last week contains a similar schedule. There is nothing unusual about how ESPN is paying the ACC over the life of this deal. It's the industry standard."
Magnus also responded to a report on an Internet fan site, which stated that ACC schools would retain certain television rights in basketball that they wouldn't in football. That, of course, was what led to Florida State Board of Trustees chairman Andy Haggard blasting the conference for catering to programs such as Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest, which traditionally are more marketable in basketball than football.
"It continues the perception that the ACC favors the North Carolina schools," Haggard said.
But Magnus explained that ESPN "retains exclusive rights to all football and men's basketball games," just as it did in the original contract.
Florida State officials have toned down their rhetoric following the weekend firestorm. Football coach Jimbo Fisher said on Monday that he wasn't getting involved in conference alignment discussions, and athletic director Randy Spetman refused to speak with reporters when he left Tuesday's meetings.