October 17th, 2013 10:25 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: ACC, Big Ten, CORRECTION, SEC, UNC
Last week — sorry that we’re only now getting wind of this — The Raleigh News & Observer reported the following: “Emails show UNC doubts about ACC after Maryland’s departure.” You know the drill from there — the paper did an open records request and then scanned all of the email communications of North Carolina’s top brass, looking for any talk of the ACC and conference realignment.
The gist of their findings is simple: Yes, Carolina officials were worried about the ACC’s television revenue when long-time rival Maryland jumped to the Big Ten. UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham emailed one Tar Heel fan last November to say: “We are looking at all options. But keeping the ACC strong is our number one choice.”
Nearly 12 months later, the Atlantic Coast Conference has added Louisville and re-worked its own television deal with ESPN. Pittsburgh and Syracuse have become official members. And perhaps most importantly, a grant-of-rights agreement has been inked between the league and its 14 members.
So for the moment things look pretty stable, if not particularly lucrative, along the Eastern Seaboard. But We know what you’re interested in learning. After Maryland’s move, did UNC peek longingly toward the SEC or any other conference while “looking at all options?”
Not according to Cunningham’s emails. The News & Observer’s report only mentions the SEC a couple of times:
1. A financial adviser in Athens, Georgia emailed Cunningham about a meeting he had had with an SEC athletic director. (We’ll guess that he met with UGA’s Greg McGarity.) The financial adviser, Joe Frierson, wrote: “He said the SEC pays out around $20 (million per) team right now. Thinks it will approach $35 (million per team) when TV contract is renegotiated in a couple of years. He said the SEC just signed a contract for the Sugar Bowl (between teams from the SEC and Big 12) for 2015 that will pay $40 (million) to each conference… That is ridiculous money.”
Cunningham’s response: “It really concerns me. If these trends continue I’m not sure how the ACC (can) compete financially.”
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