Phillips ‘Bullish’ on ACC’s United Front

CHARLOTTE — During the league’s spring meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., reports surfaced that seven ACC teams—dubbed the “Magnificent Seven”—were unified and ready to leave the league if it came to it.

It was a turbulent time for the ACC, which turned 70 years old this year. Those members are concerned about the league’s inability to renegotiate its television deal with ESPN. The ACC’s current deal with the league runs through 2036.

With conferences like the SEC and Big Ten signing billion-dollar contracts with ESPN and Fox, schools like Clemson and Florida State have publicly expressed concerns about falling behind financially, which could lead to an uneven playing field in athletics.

“I am well aware of the narrative,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said Tuesday during his forum to kickoff the ACC’s Annual Football Kickoff at the Westin Hotel in Uptown.

Phillips said he is “bullish” about the league, and he feels the league is not losing perspective on what they are trying to accomplish. He mentioned the league, though behind the SEC and Big Ten, is still third in total revenue brought in and the goal right now is to try and bridge the gap between the ACC and the other two conferences.

“Instead of trying to get to a number, try and bridge it as far as you can. As far as, how do you get it done, you work collaboratively. That is what we have done,” Phillips said.

Phillips says Clemson and Florida State have been very cooperative, as the league tries to incorporate its new success and incentive program it introduced after the spring meetings.

“Those two institutions have been terrific to work with, they have great leadership,” Phillips said.

“They love sports and they love their institutions, but I also know they also love the ACC and are trying to figure a way through,” he continued. “All of our schools are incentivized to make sure that we have as healthy of a financial portfolio as we possibly can. So, after the spring, if we would not have had any discussions or we would not have come out with the success and incentive program then I might have felt differently.

“The regularity that the board is meeting now and the regularity of our AD’s meeting, etc., and how good ESPN has been. They understand the (urgency). But they are also looking to grow financially, based on some of their recent events. You have a lot of mutually beneficial outcomes in this thing. So, staying together, working collaboratively, working strategically and we have some other things we are working on.”

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