Colleges

Money Ball: ACC expansion aimed at improving revenue, competition

Posted February 16, 2012

— Conference expansion is all about the money.

That is what drove the ACC to add Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College in the last nine years. But in the ACC, expansion has yet to truly pay off.

The league started in 1953 with eight teams covering just four states. The Atlantic Coast Conference was truly regional.

Fast forward to 2012. The ACC has 12 teams stretching from Miami to Boston and a brand new, 12-year, $1.86 billion dollar TV deal.

“The almighty dollar still matters a lot. The TV markets still matter a lot, even though we still argue how many people in New England are passionately following Boston College football or basketball,” said David Glenn, radio host and editor of ACC Sports Journal. “But it's still money. It's still TV.”

While expansion helped add some zeroes to that new contract, some, including Glenn, argue the product on the court isn't what it used to be.

The conference has 12 NCAA men's basketball titles – all won by original members of the conference. Recently, most of the success is in the work of Duke and North Carolina.

“Today's ACC basketball still has Carolina basketball with Roy Williams, still has Duke with Coach K,” Glenn said. “But that second tier is nothing like it was for most of the 1980s and 90s.”

Since expanding in 2003, the conference has seen three years in which just one team reached the Sweet 16. Prior to expanding, the conference had gone 24 years in a row with at least two teams among the final 16 still playing.

“It wasn't just the top tier that was fantastic, the second tier – and maybe it rotated from school-to-school or year- to-year – but that second tier was incredibly entertaining and sometimes won a national championship or went to the Final Four,” Glenn said.

The ball is also bouncing the wrong way when it comes to money.

Prior to the most recent expansion, the nine ACC schools combined for $75 million in revenue during the 2002-03 season while expenses were just under $30 million at $29.6 million. The conference made $2.52 for each dollar the basketball teams spent.

The latest numbers, with the three new teams, aren't as good. Revenue is up ($130 million), but expenses have more than doubled ($72 million). For each dollar spent, the schools made $1.80 – down 72 cents from pre-expansion numbers.

The new TV deal should improve the bottom line in the future, but that's only part of the equation for success.

“That quality depth has to bounce back in basketball, and a lot of things have to improve in football if the ACC wants to continue this nice climb in TV money that it generates in those two sports,” Glenn said.

While football has driven most of the expansion across the NCAA landscape recently, the ACC's pending addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh was seen as a victory on the hardwood. It is designed to help add quality depth to the conference and put ACC back on top both competitively and financially.

The Sports Business Journal recently published an article that estimates the addition of the two schools will mean $1-2 million a year in additional revenue for every ACC school. That would bring the TV revenue up to $14-15 million per institution annually.

On the court, both schools have enjoyed tremendous success in recent times. Pittsburgh has reached five Sweet 16’s and an Elite Eight since 2002. Syracuse has reached the Sweet 16 five times since 2000 and won the whole thing in 2003.

The next round of conference expansion for the ACC is visibly designed to improve both the conference’s revenue streams out of television deals and improve the level of play in what once was undisputedly the best basketball conference in the nation.
 

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  • Hokies94 May 19, 3:26 p.m.

    More revenue? Only because there are more teams.

    When FSU was added, they beat down our entire... View More

    — Posted by cjw6105

    I agree that bigger isn't better. But it is better than not existing at all. At least the ACC... View More

    — Posted by Ken D.

    Ken hit it in his first paragraph. We had to expand or crumble like some other conferences.

  • Ken D. Feb 17, 1:47 p.m.

    More revenue? Only because there are more teams.

    When FSU was added, they beat down our entire... View More

    — Posted by cjw6105

    I agree that bigger isn't better. But it is better than not existing at all. At least the ACC member schools seem to think so. I firmly believe that if the ACC had not expanded beyond its original schools, it would have been disbanded by now, and schools like Carolina, State, et al would be hangers on in some weak league not much better than FCS level.

    It wouldn't be the premier basketball league you remember fondly, because too many of its parts would have been poached by other conferences.

    Your first paragraph states that revenues per school are not higher since expansion. At least that's the implication of saying they are only higher because there are more teams. I just don't believe the facts would bear you out on that point. I think they are much higher. And they are expected to be higher still with further expansion.

    I, too, wish the sports world were more the way it was 30 years ago. But if you're looking to fix blame, don't look to the ACC, its members, or the NCAA. I don't think you have to look past ESPN, which is the engine driving all of these changes.

  • StillaHappyDay Feb 17, 12:32 p.m.

    More revenue? Only because there are more teams.

    When FSU was added, they beat down our entire... View More

    — Posted by cjw6105

    Well Said!

  • aspenstreet1717 Feb 17, 11:51 a.m.

    Bad for the fans. Always is. More and more commercials. Games starting 9 PM. Play resuming while commercials are still on. Fail to see the positive.

  • SaveEnergyMan Feb 17, 11:38 a.m.

    The expansion is totally about the money - duh!!

    Also interesting to see how much the expenses have gone up over the last 9 years. Duke's expenses are up 30%, not unreasonable over 9 years, but look at UNC's and others - it has almost doubled! I suppose high powered coaches salaries are driving this. That's a bad thing because the general student population still ponies up hundreds of dollars per semester to support these athletic programs through REQUIRED fees because most sports are revenue negative. I wonder if they managed their money better if student fees could go down and college become a little more affordable.

  • Ken D. Feb 17, 10:09 a.m.

    What I would like to see is megaconferences getting together to destroy the corrupt NCAA.... View More

    — Posted by Tarheel born

    I think your logic is flawed. It is the megaconferences - more precisely, the six power conferences - that are, if not "corrupt", at least dictating terms to the NCAA. The NCAA has no power over football except that which those conferences let it have.

  • Tarheel born Feb 17, 9:56 a.m.

    What I would like to see is megaconferences getting together to destroy the corrupt NCAA. Something is seriously wrong with Ohio State can do far worse than UNC and yet the NCAA finishes their investigation much quicker. The programs that bring in money -- such as Ohio State football, Auburn football, Kentucky basketball, UNC and Duke basketball -- are untouchable and if they do mess up, it is quickly covered up. Everyone else has a strict punishment. The NCAA needs to go, it protects its money and not the students....

    WADE.......I totally agree with this and really NO ONE can refute it either...

  • hi_i_am_wade Feb 17, 9:33 a.m.

    Well duh! The fact is megaconferences are the future.

    The beautify thing about the ACC is, while other conferences where whispering about expanding, the ACC was planning on expanding. And then one day out of the clear blue, the news broke that the ACC was adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh. John Swofford was so good, there were no rumors or whispers about it. The talking heads were debating if the ACC would be poached, and then the ACC expands. And now suddenly, other conferences are scrambling. Football money is driving expansion, but a basketball conference forced their hand.

    Notre Dame has pretty much said the only conference they would join full time is the ACC. The ACC is probably waiting Notre Dame out, because they won't be able to keep their BCS bid forever. Clemson, FSU, and Maryland won't leave because they aren't stupid. UNC and Duke are joined at the hip and they would stay in the ACC until the bitter end. Nobody wants NC State or Boston College. Virginia and Virginia Tech are also joined at the hip but only because the commonwealth of Virginia says so, and nobody wants both of them. The only team that might leave would be Miami. So the ACC is very stable. The ACC, the SEC, and the Pac-whatever are the safest conferences to be in. So the ACC can afford to wait for Notre Dame now. And then the ACC can pick whoever they want, so long as it is not a SEC team and is on the east coast.

    What I would like to see is megaconferences getting together to destroy the corrupt NCAA. Something is seriously wrong with Ohio State can do far worse than UNC and yet the NCAA finishes their investigation much quicker. The programs that bring in money -- such as Ohio State football, Auburn football, Kentucky basketball, UNC and Duke basketball -- are untouchable and if they do mess up, it is quickly covered up. Everyone else has a strict punishment. The NCAA needs to go, it protects its money and not the students.

  • Ken D. Feb 17, 9:05 a.m.

    "Prior to the most recent expansion, the nine ACC schools combined for $75 million in revenue during the 2002-03 season while expenses were just under $30 million at $29.6 million. The conference made $2.52 for each dollar the basketball teams spent.

    The latest numbers, with the three new teams, aren't as good. Revenue is up ($130 million), but expenses have more than doubled ($72 million). For each dollar spent, the schools made $1.80, down 72 cents from pre-expansion numbers."

    In other words, the schools increased revenue by $55 million and expenses by $42 million, for a net gain of $13 million, or slightly more than $1 million per school. This is a bad thing how? It's not the ratio of revenue to expense that matters, just the bottom line.

  • cjw6105 Feb 17, 9:03 a.m.

    More revenue? Only because there are more teams.

    When FSU was added, they beat down our entire conference for 10 years in football, and brought nothing to the table in basketball except for the Les Robinson Invitational.

    When Miami, BC and VT were added in '03, football took another hit with limited rivalry games and the flameout of Miami.

    Now we're getting 2 more teams, probably next season, and 2 more are sure to follow. We already go for 4 or 5 years now without hosting our closest football neighbors, and despite adding 2 more games to the league schedule, we'll cut back on the number of times we play everyone except for one other team, who is not our rival unless we're Duke and UNC.

    Competition is NOT being improved here. I don't know about revenue, but I do know that killing off rivalries is not the way to go. The Swoffords and other administrators who see only money are going to leave a legacy of having destroyed what was once a great league. Bigger isn't better.

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCSU 79
JVU 43
 
Final
ECU 92
VULYNCH 51
 
2nd
DUKE 7
UNC 28
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CAR
Half
MIA 40
LAC 58
 
10:30pm Tonight
SAC
CHI
3rd
WVU 3
KST 17
 
2nd
DUKE 7
UNC 28
 
9:30pm Tonight
TXST
ARKST
Final
AKR 66
USC 46
Final
UCONN 65
COC 57
Final
MIAMI 66
DREX 46
Final
BC 69
NMU 65
Final
CHAR 106
PSU 97
 
Final
MICH 71
DET 62
Final
WMARY 100
BFLD 57
 
Final
USCU 107
BOBJONES 41
 
Final
UCF 76
ECKERD 59
 
Final
PURD 82
GRAM 30
 
Final
NCSU 79
JVU 43
 
Final
RFLSH 102
KEYSTONE 69
 
Final
VCU 106
MDES 66
 
Final
PROV 88
NAVY 51
 
Final
BRY 72
UNH 63
 
Final
PETE 59
NIAG 61
 
Final
STET 96
PBAT 85
 
Final
WAGN 83
SUNYWEST 49
 
Final
IOWA 57
TEX 71
 
Final
TENN 70
TXSOU 58
 
Final
SHU 54
MLOWELL 57
 
Final
ECU 92
VULYNCH 51
 
Final
TENNM 115
CBC 29
 
2nd
MD 57
FORD 41
 
2nd
WVU 71
GMAS 48
 
2nd
RAD 30
HOW 30
 
2nd
MURST 55
BRESCIA 30
 
2nd
VILL 39
BUCK 30
 
2nd
TENST 33
FISK 33
 
2nd
HARV 51
FATL 33
 
2nd
MINN 77
FRANKPRCE 36
 
2nd
TULA 51
MVSU 30
 
2nd
TCU 54
NO 33
 
2nd
NW 40
UNF 38
 
Half
LSUALEX 32
NWST 42
 
2nd
IND 38
SMU 40
 
2nd
UAB 37
SFLA 36
 
2nd
EILL 38
UCD 48
 
1st
SAV 24
WINT 27
 
1st
NIOWA 27
MRGST 23
 
1st
MISS 26
SOUTH 13
 
Half
SCAR 35
CORN 21
 
1st
VANDY 11
LIP 5
 
1st
ARST 13
LMU 8
 
1st
ALA 22
SMISS 14
 
1st
GRCN 7
TXARL 9
 
9:35pm Tonight
NILL
IDAHO
9:35pm Tonight
CAL
SYR
10:00pm Tonight
GAELS
DEN
10:00pm Tonight
NARZ
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
PACU
 
10:30pm Tonight
SDST
CALST
11:00pm Tonight
UCLA
NICST
 
2nd
PHI 0
MIN 0
 
2nd Intermission
OTT 3
NAS 1
 
2nd Intermission
MON 2
STL 1
 
2nd Intermission
TOR 4
TAM 1
 
2nd
WIN 2
DET 0
 
1st Intermission
DAL 0
ARI 1
 
1st
CAL 0
CHI 2
 
1st
COL 0
WAS 0
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
ANA
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CAR
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
FLA
2nd
OAK 14
KAN 0