Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stability Is Name of Game as Conference Ads Gather

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stability Is Name of Game as Conference Ads Gather

Article excerpt

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- At last year's Atlantic Coast Conference spring meetings, the first for league newcomers Pitt and Syracuse, the big question was whether the league would survive the offseason - - or even the week -- with its full membership intact.

As the league's athletic directors gathered Monday for their annual meetings, one item not on the agenda was the prospect of future conference realignment. That seemingly persistent worry was put to bed last month when the ACC members agreed to a grant of media rights that would appear to lock in the conference membership through 2027.

"In the room, we always felt good, but then you go outside the room and no one else seemed to feel good," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. "There was always this undercurrent that there was something else going on. I think what [the grant of rights] did was kind of sent a message to everybody that we're in this and this is the way it's going to be."

Whereas last year was about trying to maintain the status quo, this year's meetings will be about how the league can move forward. As a symbol of that, Maryland, set to depart the league after next season, did not have representatives present Monday, but Louisville, joining in 2014, did.

Athletic directors, football coaches and men's and women's basketball coaches will gather over the next few days to discuss a number of issues facing the now-stable conference.

The biggest question, stemming from the creation of the grant of rights, is the possibility of an ACC television network, similar to those created for the Big Ten and Pacific 12 conferences. The Southeastern Conference announced a network of its own earlier this month.

Commissioner John Swofford said the conference, along with television partner ESPN, would begin an "analysis phase" of creating its own network. Among other things, it will involve studying the fledgling SEC Network, another joint venture involving ESPN.

"The answer will be there when it's there," Swofford said. "We don't want to let any grass grow, and I don't think ESPN does either. But we also want to be very thorough with it and we also understand that our partner is initiating something similar with a colleague conference. …

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