Clemson trustees met today to discuss conference realignment and expansion and the ACC’s new television deal. The board took no votes, rather discussed issues and separated fact from internet rumors in a private session.
Board chairman David Wilkins said Clemson has not been in contact with any conference about leaving the ACC but said if a viable option is presented to Clemson from another conference Clemson would have a “responsibility” to study such a proposal.
There was no indication from Wilkins that there was a serious push from board members to explore leaving the ACC. Rather the meeting was set to gather information in response to the volume of speculation that has occurred publicly regarding realignment scenarios.
Wilkins said no other meetings have been planned and one will only take place “if necessary.”
“(The ACC) is our home and we want to make it the best home,” Wilkins said.
What can the conference do to make itself a better home for Clemson and other members?
Said Wilkins: “Win football games.”
If the ACC can improve its football product its new television deal calls for renegotiation opportunities in the fifth year and the 10th year of the deal.
Today’s meeting was called in part because Clemson has been connected to the Big 12 in internet rumors over the last several weeks.
When asked why the Big 12 would be a good fit for Clemson – the conference is not a geographic fit and would substantially increase Clemson’ travel expenses – Wilkins told the Post and Courier specifics, like travel costs, in joining the Big 12 or any other conference were not discussed today.
Fueling the speculation has been the Big 12’s superior television contract to that of the ACC, a deal which offers programs $3 million more per year in average annual value and the right to sell third-tier football games. It’s also unclear if the Big 12 would welcome expansion.
ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a radio interview Wednesday he would be surprised if any ACC member left the conference.
“That is part of the world we live in unfortunately,” Swofford said of realignment rumors. “Consequently what I pay attention to, and what we pay attention to in this league are what is said from our presidents and their ADs and quite honestly I have talked to each of those presidents within the last 48 hours and that’s not all what I’m hearing from our schools.”
Clemson board members held a similar meeting last year when rumors had connected Clemson to the Southeastern Conference. And last year Clemson president James Barker and the board stated their commitment to the ACC, where Clemson is an original member.