Florida State to ACC on Revenue: 'Something Has to Change'

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With Florida State University and the Atlantic Coast Conference on the verge of falling further behind both the SEC and Big Ten in revenue, FSU athletic director Michael Alford has declared that "something has to change."

According the Tallahassee Democrat, the ACC will trail by about $30 million per year when the Big Ten television contract begins this year and the SEC's starts next year.

In a prepared speech Friday, Alford said Big Ten schools will receive about $80 million each year from their television contracts,  while SEC members will get $72 million. He said FSU, when “you throw everything in,” including the kitchen sink, receives around $42 million. FSU has calculated revenue projections to 2042, and Alford insists, “We have to do something."

The ACC is locked into its television deal with ESPN through 2036. This means any money made from a television broadcast by FSU — the ACC's premier brand — belongs to the ACC and distributed evenly among its 14 members for another 13 years. Based on a market valuation Alford had commissioned, he said FSU contributes roughly 15 percent of the value in the ACC's media rights deal, but receives only 7 percent of the distributions as one of 14 full conference members.

Moreover, FSU and Clemson combine for around 24 percent of the value in the conference’s media rights deals and collect a combined 14 percent, Alford said, as reported by the Democrat.

According to Alford, the financial gap between FSU and its peers in the SEC and Big Ten will continue to grow as conferences exercise their flexibility around media rights. In three years, for example, FSU could trail rival Florida by an additional $90 million in revenues.

Alford explained FSU represents 70 percent more television viewers than the ACC average. The Seminoles boast the highest average (3.17 million) and exceeded 4 million viewers 17 times, an industry benchmark, from 2014 to 2022, the Democrat reported.

At the conference's recent winter meetings, leadership discussed an uneven revenue sharing mode in which schools that invest and bring in the most television revenue would receiver larger distributions each year — a tough sell among the dozen members that don't drive revenue like FSU and Clemson.

"We're working with the conference, don't know if we're going to get there," Alford said of the model. "I know Jim Phillips and his staff are working very hard to provide solutions to this issue."

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