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Could Seminoles be leaving ACC? 'Something has to change,' athletic director says

Michael Alford says Florida State to receive about $30 million less than Big Ten, SEC schools each year
Night view of Bobby Bowden Field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium, September 2018
Posted at 2:06 PM, Feb 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-25 15:57:17-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State athletic director Michael Alford told his board of trustees Friday that "something has to change" as it relates to the revenue gap between the Atlantic Coast Conference and other growing leagues in the Power 5.

Alford said Florida State stands to receive about $30 million less annually than its peers in the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten Conference, both of which are expanding to 16 teams for the 2024 football season.

He said Big Ten schools will receive about $80 million per year with their new television contract, while SEC schools will take in about $72 million each year.

"Right now, when you throw everything in, we receive about $42 million," Alford told the board, according to "That would put us literally $30 million behind our competitors and peers across the country, and that's $30 million every year."

Alford noted that the Seminoles are one of the biggest brands in the ACC in terms of exposure and that they "drive the media value in this conference."

Florida State Seminoles safety Jammie Robinson tries to stop Clemson Tigers receiver Joseph Ngata, Oct. 15, 2022
Clemson wide receiver Joseph Ngata runs after a catch as Florida State safety Jammie Robinson tries to grab him during the second quarter Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla.

He went on to say that it would be "impossible" to compete nationally with such a revenue disparity, prompting one board member to ask about the feasibility of Florida State leaving the conference.

"That is an excellent question," FSU general counsel and vice president Carolyn Egan answered.

Egan and Alford then explained it would cost about $120 million for Florida State to leave the ACC.

Then there's still the matter of the ACC's grant of media rights. As it currently stands, if Florida State were to leave the ACC, the conference would control its media rights until 2036.

Texas and Oklahoma negotiated an early exit with the Big 12 Conference, allowing the schools to take control of their media rights as they move to the SEC. But it'll cost them $100 million to do so.

Florida State Seminoles QB Jordan Travis eludes Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Ethan Downs at 2022 Cheez-It Bowl
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis scrambles away from Oklahoma defensive lineman Ethan Downs during the first half of the Cheez-It Bowl, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.

Alford said the Seminoles "represent 70% more viewers than the typical ACC school" and generate about 15% of the ACC's media rights revenue.

"But we only get 7% of the distribution," Alford said.

Alford said he's working with the ACC on "how to create a revenue distribution model that takes into factors who you are, how you play, what your brand is," but he's not sure if it will come to fruition.

If not, the future of the Seminoles in the ACC is tenuous at best.