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Report: AAC trying to lock up schools through grant-of-rights deal

By agreeing to such a deal, conference schools like USF and UCF would forego an opportunity to move to another league.
American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco will be seeking a new, more prosperous media-rights deal for his 5-year-old league. (AP Photo/Stew Milne, File) NY190
Published Dec. 10, 2018
Updated Dec. 10, 2018

In an effort to sweeten their next media-rights deal, the American Athletic Conference's member schools reportedly are considering a deal that essentially would keep them in the league for the foreseeable future.

Question is, will all the schools sign it? Better yet, should they?

A report in, citing no sources, indicated the AAC is asking schools to sign a grant-of-rights agreement that would keep them in the conference for the duration of the next media-rights deal. The current AAC package — a seven-year, $126 million deal with ESPN — expires in 2020.

The AAC had no comment.

By committing to such an agreement, the schools — including USF and UCF — would forego the right to jump to a Power Five conference should one of those leagues expand. In exchange, the schools reportedly would get a larger share of league revenue from the next media deal.

The possibility of some of the top-tier AAC schools making more revenue than others in the next deal also has been discussed. Yet whether such incentives would prompt any of those institutions to sign away any legal right to jump ship is unclear.

Even a significantly sweetened AAC media-rights deal still almost certainly would pale in comparison to the Power Five conferences, whose schools each reportedly get anywhere from $27-$40 million annually, with a bulk of that revenue coming from TV.

With some of the Power Five deals expiring by the middle of the next decade, a fresh round of conference realignment could ensue.