As Colorado becomes the latest domino to fall in college football realignment, ACC commissioner Jim Phillips said the league continues to actively consider adding teams but has not found enough value in any expansion option.
Phillips told ESPN on Thursday that he’s closely monitoring the Pac-12’s issues landing a new TV deal and routinely examining how realignment can shift the ACC’s position in the Power 5’s financial hierarchy.
“The ACC has been and remains highly engaged in looking at anything that makes us a better and stronger conference,” Phillips told ESPN. “We’ve spent considerable time on expansion to see if there is anything that fits. We have a tremendous group of institutions but if there was something that made us better, we would absolutely be open to it.”
While expansion had not been a favored option, Colorado’s move could alter that landscape.
Since the first major realignment dominoes fell with Texas and Oklahoma’s decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC happened in summer 2021, the ACC has explored possible expansion options, according to multiple league administrators, running models on adding a number of potential targets, including West Virginia, SMU, Oregon and Washington. However, league officials haven’t determined if any additional schools would help bridge the ACC’s financial gap with the SEC and Big Ten.
But Phillips has also touted the ACC’s relatively secure position as the No. 3 league in TV revenue, which along with the conference’s grant of rights deal, which extends until 2036, as a source of optimism.
“Revenue generation continues to be a priority, but this league is third right now in revenue as we go forward into wherever the next TV deals are for other conferences where, we’ve looked at it,” Phillips said. “We’ve had multiple TV consultants. Third is certainly a good position, but we want to gain and gain traction financially in order to close the gap with the SEC and the Big Ten.”
Several ACC athletics directors expressed concerns to ESPN, however, that the Big 12’s push for continued growth could threaten the ACC’s third-place status, particularly given that league will have an opportunity to negotiate another new TV deal four years before the ACC does. As one AD suggested, expansion could be valuable to the league simply as a means of preventing the Big 12 from growing further.
Phillips acknowledged that reality at the league’s kickoff event this week.