The Atlantic Coast Conference is making progress toward an expansion that could grab Stanford and California from the sinking Pac-12, a person with direct knowledge of the ACC’s potential move told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conference was not making its internal discussions public.
“It’s gaining momentum,” the person said about the possibility of expansion being approved.
Two weeks ago, the ACC got so far as to gather its entire board of university leaders twice in three days to consider adding Stanford, Cal and possibly SMU, the Dallas-based American Athletic Conference school. They never took an official vote, knowing they would not have had the necessary 12 of 15 votes for expansion to be approved.
How new revenue generated by adding members to the conference would be distributed has been a sticking point for several schools, among them Florida State, Clemson and North Carolina.
But expansion was never a dead issue.
The person said Commissioner Jim Phillips has continued to work on a revenue distribution model that would direct a large portion of the money ESPN would pay the conference to cover three new members to a pool that pays out performance-based bonuses.
The person said the league was trying to arrange a meeting of its athletic directors for Thursday, but there was no meeting of the full board of presidents and chancellors yet scheduled.
ACC leaders earlier this year agreed to a “ success incentive initiative” that would allow schools to earn more money generated from their own postseason performances. Media rights revenue is shared equally in the ACC, but expansion could force a shift in that philosophy.
Schools joining a new conference often receive reduced shares of revenue. Stanford last week informed Pac-12 partners Oregon State and Washington State that it had told the ACC it was open to join for a drastically reduced share or even no media rights revenue for several years.
The Pac-12 has been stripped of eight members, who have already announced they will join either the Big Ten or Big 12 in August 2024.
That has left Stanford and Cal desperate to find another power conference home. The westernmost ACC school is Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, though the Fighting Irish remain a football independent that plays a limited number of ACC opponents each season.
The westernmost football member of the ACC is Louisville, 2,300 miles from the Bay Area in California. Most ACC schools are located on the East Coast.
ESPN first reported the ACC was ramping up its expansion conversations.