With Atlantic Coast Conference university leaders seemingly on the verge of deciding whether to expand with Stanford, California and SMU, two North Carolina trustees announced Thursday night that a “strong majority” of the board opposes the move.
ACC presidents and chancellors are scheduled to meet Friday morning to again consider a Western expansion, a person with direct knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press on Thursday.
It was unclear if the presidents will take a decisive vote on adding new members, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conference and schools were not making internal discussions public.
A few hours later, the chairman and vice chairman of North Carolina’s board of trustees released a statement, urging the school to vote no on expansion.
“The strong majority of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Board of Trustees opposes the proposed expansion of the Atlantic Coast Conference to include Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Southern Methodist University,” chairman David L. Boliek Jr. and vice chair John P. Preyer said.
“Although we respect the academic excellence and the athletic programs of those institutions, the travel distances for routine in-conference competitive play are too great for this arrangement to make sense for our student athletes, coaches, alumni and fans. Furthermore, the economics of this newly imagined transcontinental conference do not sufficiently address the income disparity ACC members face. Without ironclad assurances that the proposed expansion serves the interest of UNC-Chapel Hill, we believe it should be voted down.”
The ACC has been weighing expansion for several weeks. The presidents and chancellors were scheduled to hold a call Monday night to delve into expansion, but the deadly shooting of a professor at the University of North Carolina led the conference to put its business on hold. ESPN first reported Friday’s rescheduled call.
The presidents discussed adding schools three weeks ago but chose not to take a vote, knowing they likely didn’t have 12 of the 15 votes necessary for approval. Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina and North Carolina State have been against adding schools.
Since then, Commissioner Jim Phillips has been working on revenue distribution models that he hopes will bring consensus. Adding three schools would require ESPN to pay more in yearly media rights revenue to the ACC, but the new members would receive greatly reduced payments upon entry and slowly ramp up.
That means more revenue for current members, but how it is divvied up has been the sticking point.
The interest from the ACC — and the urgency from Stanford and Cal — increased after the Pac-12 was plundered by the Big Ten and Big 12 and left with just four schools committed beyond this year.
The Northern California rivals have been scrambling to find a Power Five conference home for 2024-25 and beyond with the Pac-12 on the brink of extinction and only Washington State and Oregon State left to rebuild with.
AP College Basketball Writer Aaron Beard in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, contributed to this report.