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Why major conference realignment may be over for the foreseeable future

Apr 22, 2013, 1:47 PM EDT

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The ACC has reportedly agreed to a 15-team grant of media rights deal that will extend through the 2026-2027 season. The news was first reported by David Glenn but has since been confirmed by multiple outlets.

If this report turns out to be true and this agreement is signed by the schools in the ACC, it could end major conference realignment for quite some time.

For those that don’t know, a grant of media rights is a simple concept: it’s an agreement that grants the rights to the television broadcasts for the school to the conference for a certain period of time. What that means is that if North Carolina, for example, were to leave the ACC after this agreement was signed, all of the money that they would stand to receive from TV contracts would go back to the ACC until 2027. Seeing as the entire reason behind conference realignment was the result of the differences in revenue generated by TV contracts, a grant of media rights contract is the best way to lock a team into a league.

Look at it like this: the grant of media rights deal last for 14 more years. At an average of, let’s say, $20 million a year generated in TV revenue, leaving the ACC this summer would cost a school $280 million. That ain’t happening.

Remember when the Big 12 was dropped to 10 teams and everyone thought the conference was getting ready to implode? They signed a grant of media rights deal. They are doing just fine.

The ACC was the league that everyone expected would be the next to get raided. Depending on where you looked, you could find everyone from Florida State and Georgia Tech, to Clemson and Virginia, and even UNC getting tied up in ‘they are going to be leaving the ACC’ rumors. If the Big Ten wanted to expand, grabbing the North Carolina and Atlanta TV markets wasn’t a bad way to go about doing it.

But that looks like it is about to end.

So with the ACC and the Big 12 locked into a grant of media rights deal and with the Pac-12, Big Ten and SEC making money hand over fist with their TV networks, it looks like major conference realignment may be coming to a halt.

This is good news for everyone … except Cincinnati, South Florida and UConn.

Looks like they’re going to be stuck in the AAC for quite some time.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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