Stanford has not given up on getting an invitation to join the Atlantic Coast Conference as its fellow Pac-4 members in the Pacific Northwest hope to rebuild their plundered league and wait to find out if the Cardinal are in.
Leaders from Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State spoke Thursday, and Stanford told its colleagues it had informed the ACC that it would be open to joining the conference at greatly reduced or even no media rights payout for several years, a person familiar with the discussions told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the schools were not making their internal discussions public.
Whether getting Stanford – and Northern California rival Cal – at a cut rate will be enough to convince the necessary 12 of 15 ACC schools to vote to expand remains unknown.
The future of the Pac-12 appears to hinge upon Stanford’s next move. Eight members of the more-than-100-year-old conference will be leaving after the 2023-24 school year.
Stanford, which has a $36.2 billion endowment, and Cal have been searching for another Power Five landing spot for two weeks since the Pac-12 was picked apart by the Big 12 and Big Ten.
The only possibility appears to be in the ACC, which is made up entirely of schools in the Eastern time zone.
ACC leaders held three days of talks last week to consider westward expansion that also included possibly bringing in SMU, the Dallas-based school from the American Athletic Conference.
The presidents never took an official vote, knowing the 12 votes needed to approve expansion was going to be difficult to get. But that didn’t settle the issue.
Several ACC members, most vocally Florida State, have been pushing for the conference to change its current equal revenue distribution model.
The conference did announce earlier this year approval of a distribution model that rewards performance bonuses to schools from College Football Playoff and NCAA men’s basketball tournament revenue. Details of that model have still not been revealed by the ACC.
If Stanford and Cal agreed to join the conference at drastically reduced shares, the conference could redirect the increased revenue from its contract with ESPN toward existing members.
But how and how much is a sticking point within the ACC.
Meanwhile, Oregon State and Washington State are in limbo.
Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes re-iterated the statement university president Jayathi Murthy made late last week, telling The Oregonian on Wednesday the school is committed to rebuilding the Pac-12.
“Nothing’s easy, given the circumstances, but I think it’s our best path forward,” Barnes told the newspaper. ”It is a solid option in terms of building back. All the more need to have the four of us as the foundation of what we build.”
The other options for Oregon State and Washington State would be joining the Mountain West or American Athletic Conference.
As for a timetable, Barnes said they need to know whether Stanford and Cal are in as soon as possible.
“We can’t wait a month. I’m hopeful that it’s days,” he said.
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