Thursday, May 24, 2018
Colleges

Florida State Seminoles weigh ACC vs. Big 12

AMELIA ISLAND — Though Florida State president Eric Barron has said his school is committed to the ACC, he explored the pros and cons of a move to the Big 12 in a memo obtained by several news organizations.

Barron outlined four areas that favor the Big 12 and seven that support staying in the ACC, FSU's home since 1992.

Barron says the Big 12's television package might be more lucrative, but cites the ACC's policy of sharing television revenue equally as an advantage for staying put.

"So when fans realize that Texas would get more dollars than FSU, always having a competitive advantage, it would be interesting to see the fan reaction," he wrote.

Barron also mentions that it would cost an exit fee of $20 million or more to leave the ACC, the school would lose its lucrative rivalry with Miami and the greater academic prestige of the ACC.

Rumors of FSU's interest in the Big 12 have simmered for some time and came to the forefront over the weekend when Board of Trustees chairman Andy Haggard said he thought the school should explore a move.

Seminoles football coach Jimbo Fisher said, "If (jumping to the Big 12) is what's best for Florida State, then that's what we need to do."

But at the ACC meetings Monday, Fisher seemed to fall in line with Barron's view.

"We're in the ACC," Fisher said. "We're happy to be here. … We have a good football conference."

Part of the frustration Haggard seemed to have Saturday stemmed from the perception that the ACC has long been and will long remain a basketball-first conference. But league officials are quick to point out strong television ratings from football across recent seasons.

Fisher pointed out that television revenues play an increasingly important role in all phases of the conference realignment chatter.

"That's what's changed the landscape of college athletics, and particularly, college football," he said. "College football is what's driving that train."

Last week, the ACC and ESPN announced an extended television partnership that would be worth $3.6 billion through 2027, averaging about $17 million per school per year. The Big 12 recently reached a "verbal" agreement on an extended television deal that would pay its member schools $20 million per year by the end of its terms.

On Monday, Florida State's sports information office furnished an automatic reply that Barron's email address has been sending to anyone who questions him about conference motives.

"The faculty are adamantly opposed to joining a league that is academically weaker," Barron's email said. "In fact, many of them resent the fact that a 2 percent ($2.4 million) deficit in the athletics budget receives so much attention from concerned Seminoles, but the loss of 25 percent of the academic budget ($105 million) gets none when it is the most critical concern of this University in terms of its successful future."

Information from the Orlando Sentinel was used in this report.

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