ACC Clears Path for SMU to Join Conference

(Photo: SMU)

(AP)- The Atlantic Coast Conference has cleared the way for Stanford, California and SMU to join the league next year, two people with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Friday, providing a landing spot for two more teams from the disintegrating Pac-12.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement was still being prepared. The conference’s university presidents and chancellors met Friday morning and voted to extend invitations to the three schools.

The additions make the ACC the latest power conference to expand its membership and footprint westward. Starting in August 2024, the league with Tobacco Road roots in North Carolina will increase its number of football schools to 17 and 18 in most other sports, with Notre Dame remaining a football independent.

Notre Dame is currently the westernmost ACC school in South Bend, Indiana, with Louisville the farthest west among football members.

But now, like the Big Ten, the ACC will be a cross-country conference. The ACC will span from Boston in the Northeast to Miami in South Florida, out to Dallas in the heart of the Southwest and up to the Northern California, where Stanford and Cal reside.

The move appears to be a marriage of desperation for the Bay Area schools, in need of a Power Five conference to call home after the Pac-12 was picked apart by the Big Ten and Big 12.

For the ACC, adding three schools will increase media rights revenue from its long-term deal with ESPN, and allow the conference to spread much of that new money to existing members.

New conference members typically — though not always — forgo a full share of revenue for several years upon entry.

Stanford and Cal will be the ninth and 10th schools to inform the Pac-12 that this will be their last sports seasons in the self-described Conference of Champions.

The Big Ten lured away Oregon and Washington earlier this month. That came a little more than a year after Southern California and UCLA started the Eastern migration by West Coast schools when they announced they were leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024.

The Big 12 has poached four Pac-12 schools for next year: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.

The Pac-12 will now be down to Oregon State and Washington State.

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