Fortuna Files: The potential problem of SMU going to the ACC
What kind of precedent would buying your way into a conference set for smaller Power 5 programs? Also, Sam Hartman impresses, ASU fumbles (again) and depth chart mysteries abound.
While there has still been no decision from the ACC in regards to expansion, it is worth looking at just how much money a potential move from the AAC to the ACC would cost SMU. In addition to the Mustangs proposing to forfeit as many as seven years’ worth of media rights revenue from the ACC, they would owe the AAC a hefty exit fee.
The AAC requires a $10 million exit fee for giving 27 months’ notice of a departure. Cincinnati, Houston and UCF paid $17 million apiece to leave for the Big 12 within two years.
No AAC member has left the conference within 12 months before, so it is difficult to put a finite price on SMU’s potential exit, as it would likely begin ACC play in 2024-25. The belief within the AAC is that the Mountain West Conference’s $34 million exit fee for leaving within a year — a number that became public during San Diego State’s summer flirtations with the Pac-12 — will serve as a benchmark for negotiations between commissioner Mike Aresco and SMU.
“It’s not institutional money, it’s outside money,” one AAC source told The Inside Zone of SMU’s funding. “As long as oil remains $75 a barrel, I assume they have it.”
The potential SMU move shows just how much the criteria has changed over the years when it comes to realignment. Expansion used to be about television markets, or whether a school brought enough equity to enhance the pie that would be split among everyone else in the conference.