Campus Corner

Does realignment end with ACC announcement?

Updated: 2013-04-22T19:46:43Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

With college football playoff meetings and the NFL Draft, this week will deliver plenty of college football news.

But none could have the long-range clout as the announcement by Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford on Monday. The league's 15 members have signed a grant of rights, ensuring conference stability, which could end the musical chairs of major conference realignment.

The agreement runs through 2026-27, the length of the conference's new TV contract with ESPN, and grants schools' media rights to the ACC. If an ACC school left for another league, the media money it receives from the new conference would belong to the ACC.

That arrangement not only makes it unfeasible for a school to leave a conference, it makes that school unattractive to a new league because that new league wouldn't own the school's media rights.

"This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions," Swofford said.

The Big 12 announced a grant of rights with its ESPN deal last year, with 10 schools handing over media rights to the conference through 2025. Speculation has swirled that the Big Ten, which added Maryland and Rutgers last year, expanding to 14 teams, wasn't finished shopping with Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia most often mentioned as targets.

Had any of them accepted a Big Ten invitation, the concern was another round of realignment might follow.

With the ACC announcement, Big Ten options seemed limited and conference membership stability could reign over college sports.

The only major conference that doesn't have a grant of rights is the Southeastern Conference, and that league has never had a problem with realignment, except for deciding whom to invite.

The 14-team SEC is about to get even stronger with the announcement of the SEC Network. That was supposed to happen last week, but the league and ESPN decided to postpone in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. There's no word on a rescheduled announcement.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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