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ACC Chief Gets Set to Chase SEC’s $3 Billion TV Contract

GREENSBORO, N.C.: Four years ago, a $258 million TV contract was considered pretty sweet for the 12 schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference. That was before the Southeastern Conference scored its $3 billion TV contract. Now, ACC chief John Swofford is talking publicly, if carefully, about how to catch up with the SEC.

“The SEC deal is certainly huge in terms of the dollars and the length of the agreement,” Swofford told Tony Barnhart of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There is usually a separation of some kind that is inevitable when new deals are struck. But I will admit that this separation is larger than most.”

The SEC’s TV deal with ABC, ESPN and CBS began this year and run through 2024. The ACC’s current deal expires in 2011. ACC schools average around $3.1 million a year from the contract. SEC schools can expect see more than five times that amount.

“That is a game changer in a competitive market,” Barnhart wrote. “While other conferences like the ACC are cutting costs--the ACC cut its budget by 6 percent for the coming year--the SEC is suddenly flush with cash. There is more money to attract the best coaches… The increased exposure gives the SEC an edge in recruiting.”

While Swofford indicated he’d go after a beefier contract, Barnhart noted that times have changed since the SEC nailed down its lucrative deal last summer. The economy tanked just a couple of months later. He mused whether the ACC should do a cooperate TV deal with the Pac 10.

The ACC’s current TV partners include ABC, ESPN (both Disney’s) and Raycom. Swofford said the conference would just have to see how negotiations play out.

Previous TVB coverage of the ACC’s TV contract dilemma:
May 14, 2009: “Schools Consider impact of TV Deals”
“We all know we weren’t exactly slumming it before last August’s blockbuster agreements came along.”