Florida State President, Trustees Openly Express Desire to Leave ACC: “It’s Not A Matter of If We Leave, It‘s A Matter of How and When We Leave”

By Dan Hope on August 2, 2023 at 5:57 pm
Florida State players in 2023 spring game
Melina Myers – USA TODAY Sports

Florida State’s president and numerous members of its Board of Trustees believe it is time for the Seminoles to find their way out of the ACC.

The Seminoles and the rest of the ACC schools are currently locked into a grant of rights with the conference through 2036, which stipulates that the ACC owns each of its schools’ media rights through that year. Based on what Florida State president Rick McCullough and the university’s trustees said during a Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday, however, it doesn’t sound like FSU will be patiently waiting out that contract for the next 13 years.

“I believe that FSU will have to, at some point, consider very seriously leaving the ACC — unless there were a radical change to the revenue distribution,” McCullough said Wednesday.

Former Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford, who is now a member of the university‘s Board of Trustees, said during the meeting that it’s only a matter of time before FSU will change conferences.

“It’s not a matter of if we leave, in my opinion, it’s a matter of how and when we leave,” Weatherford said. “Not everyone may agree with that, but I feel really strongly about it.”

Fellow trustee Justin Roth said that staying in the ACC for the next 13 years would be equivalent to “death by a thousand cuts.”

“Each cut is a $30 million cut over the next 13 years,” Roth said. “It’s one thing to take a $30 million cut last year. It’s another to take another one this year. But to do this for 13 years – this isn’t just about football. We have some of the best women’s athletics, some of the best non-revenue-generating athletics that‘ll take a hit. So I think just continuing on this path of trying to get the absolute perfect deal is going to get tougher and tougher, and just waiting is not the answer.”

Florida State would need to inform the ACC it plans to leave the conference by Aug. 15 in order to move to a new conference in 2024. Roth said he believes Florida State needs to come up with an exit plan to leave the ACC within the next 12 months, which could mean giving the ACC notice before Aug. 15, 2024 so that it can join a new conference in 2025.

Florida State would have to negotiate a deal to buy out of the ACC’s grant of rights, but that may prove to be worth it for FSU in the long run if the Seminoles land an invitation to join either the Big Ten or SEC. While the ACC’s current annual revenue distribution to its members is approximately $40 million per school, Big Ten schools are expected to make more than $70 million per year off of the conference’s new media rights deal.

Wednesday’s comments from Florida State leaders come after reports surfaced in May that a group of seven ACC schools – Clemson, FSU, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia and Virginia Tech – were exploring the possibility of getting out of the conference’s grant of rights. They also come on the same day Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel reported the Big Ten is exploring the possibility of adding Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California to the conference with the Pac-12 on the verge of a potential collapse.

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