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Miami AD Dan Radakovich’s Perspective on ACC Expansion: ‘Not Unanimous, but Quality Institutions Added’

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Photo Credit: University of Miami Athletics

In a move that promises to reshape the landscape of collegiate sports, the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) officially welcomed three new members—Cal, Stanford, and SMU—into its fold, marking a significant expansion of the conference. The decision, however, was far from unanimous, revealing both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

The ACC expansion had been a subject of intense debate among member institutions for quite some time. The conference’s leadership had been working tirelessly to secure enough votes to move forward with this transformative endeavor. On Friday, it became official, and the ACC’s family grew larger.

Despite the historic nature of the expansion, it was not a decision that received unanimous support from all member schools. While the ACC’s rules mandate that 12 out of 15 members must vote affirmatively for a conference expansion, initial opposition emerged from four schools: Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina, and NC State. These institutions had reservations about the addition of Cal, Stanford, and SMU to the ACC’s ranks.

NC State, however, emerged as a pivotal player in this narrative. In a surprising twist, they chose to flip their vote, paving the way for the expansion to proceed. The ACC will now have a total of 18 teams starting from the 2024 season, with the three newcomers bringing their unique strengths and identities to the conference.

Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich, a key figure in ACC circles, emphasized that a lack of a unanimous vote should not overshadow the significance of this expansion. He noted, “People talk a lot about that kind of issue of not having a unanimous vote, but there’s so many things that happen within the league that are unanimous votes. So it’s not unusual for that to happen. But everybody had their thought process. Everybody had an opportunity to say their piece. As it ended up, we were able to bring those three quality institutions to the league.”

Radakovich’s sentiments reflect the diversity of perspectives within the ACC. The conference’s leaders recognize that every member institution has its own unique interests and concerns. In the end, the decision to expand was guided by a vision of strengthening the ACC both financially and athletically.

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips played a crucial role in navigating the expansion process. Despite not securing a unanimous vote from the league’s members, Phillips received praise for his ability to manage the complex negotiations and ensure that the expansion moved forward. Radakovich commended Phillips, saying, “First of all, I’ve got to give great credit to commissioner Phillips being able to deal with all of the presidents and the presidents’ wisdom to be able to move forward with this, to make this happen. I think this is going to really help solidify the conference financially, academically, and athletically. I think those are all going to be really good things for the ACC coming into the near term and well into the future, as well.”

The decision to expand the ACC comes in response to ongoing challenges and threats to the conference’s stability. Programs like Florida State had been vocal about seeking better revenue deals or considering their options outside the ACC. The expansion aims to address these concerns while positioning the conference for long-term success.

One of the key aspects of this expansion is the financial impact it is expected to have on the ACC. The addition of Cal, Stanford, and SMU is projected to bring an additional $72 million in annual revenue from ESPN to the conference. While SMU will not receive any of the television revenue money for the first nine years, Cal and Stanford will share in the television revenue, albeit at a slightly reduced rate.

ACC commissioner Phillips addressed the potential impact of the expansion on member institutions, stating, “I know that there’s something in this for everybody. No one can deny that. It also takes a step forward towards it. Maybe it’s not enough. Maybe it is. But we are doing everything we can within the conference to address that piece of it. The success initiative, let’s let that play out. Let’s see what that looks like. Let’s see how much revenue is generated and then distributed to those that maybe have more success in football.”

While the expansion is seen as a significant step forward for the ACC, it remains a topic of ongoing discussion and analysis. Some wonder if the new arrangement will be enough to appease all members, especially those who initially voted against it. Phillips acknowledged that the expansion might not address every concern but stressed that it offers benefits to all members, whether they initially supported it or not.

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