ACC grant of rights latest roadblock for UConn

ACC Presidents approved a grant of media rights Monday that extends through 2026-27, according to an ESPN report. The agreement effectively locks up all teams for the next 14 years, preventing other power conferences from poaching.

If an ACC school chose to leave, its media rights, including revenue, for all home games would remain with the ACC regardless of league affiliation, according to ESPN’s report. Simply put, it would make very little financial sense for any ACC school to flee, which complicates UConn’s future.

It’s widely believed that UConn would have a higher long-term ceiling — in all sports — if it were in a different conference. And for quite some time, the ACC seemed the most likely destination. Back in November, an ACC vacancy opened when Maryland accepted a bid to the B1G. UConn and Louisville were considered the top potential replacements, and the ACC quickly chose Louisville to fill the opening.

Ever since, the common belief was this: UConn, seemingly the most complete sports school not included in the power conferences, must wait for another ACC vacancy and then make a hard sell.

But Monday’s grant of rights drastically alters the situation. The above scenario no longer exists, and it seems another escape route has been blocked.

Stuck in the AAC, UConn could draw interest from the B1G if the conference decides to expand (the league would choose from schools in the SEC, AAC, Conference USA or Mountain West because the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12 have grants of rights). In that regard, Monday’s news could work in UConn’s favor. With the ACC out of the realignment picture, there are less teams “available” for the B1G and Big 12.

The B1G currently has 14 teams, but there’s been rampant speculation that the league will expand to 16. OhioState President E. Gordon Gee told The Columbus Dispatch in January that expansion talks were “ongoing.” Although it would make little geographical sense for UConn to join the B1G or Big 12, it’s certainly a better alternative to the AAC.

Of course, UConn could still wind up in the ACC if the conference seeks a 16th basketball school. Thus far, ACC commissioner John Swofford has been adamant about sticking with 15 teams.