ACC commish dismisses notion college athletics should be ‘a zero-sum structure’

ACC commish dismisses notion college athletics should be ‘a zero-sum structure’

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Jim Phillips, ACC Commissioner, addressed the state of college athletics on Wednesday as his conference opened its media event ahead of the start of the football season.

Realignment was one of the major storylines of the offseason. Oklahoma and Texas both agreed to join the SEC, and USC and UCLA decided to jump to the Big Ten. Phillips said was committed to trying to maintain the vast landscape of college athletics instead of two or three super leagues.

“I will continue to do what’s in the best interest of the ACC, but will also strongly advocate for college athletics to be a healthy neighborhood, not two or three gated communities,” Phillips said, via The Athletic.

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Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips answers a question during an NCAA college football news conference at the ACC media days in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 20, 2022.

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips answers a question during an NCAA college football news conference at the ACC media days in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Media rights deals are also a big topic in college athletics. The Big Ten is reportedly expected to earn about $100 million per school in its new deal once the ink is dry. The ACC listed a record $578.3 million in total revenue while distributing an average of $36.1 million per school for the 2020-21 season, which included Notre Dame which served as a member school for one season during the coronavirus pandemic-impacted season.

The ACC’s deal with ESPN runs through 2036 and Phillips said he was looking at all options to maximize the conference’s revenue and increase its financial standings in comparison to the other top ones.

“We are not the professional ranks. This is not NFL or NBA light. We all remain competitive with one another, but this is not and should not be a winner-take-all or a zero-sum structure,” Phillips said. 

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Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips speaks during an NCAA college football news conference at the ACC media days in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 20, 2022. 

Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner Jim Phillips speaks during an NCAA college football news conference at the ACC media days in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, July 20, 2022.  (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

“College athletics have never been elitist or singularly commercial. It has provided countless individuals with a path to higher education, and therefore life-changing possibilities. Access, opportunity and a modern rules-based structure should all remain a priority as we continue to evolve.”

Phillips told the Associated Press the ACC and ESPN have a mutual interest in making the ACC Network as profitable as possible.

“How can they have a partnership and an asset and not want it to really be thriving over the next 14 years?” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense. So they are motivated. And when you talk about (how) we’re considering multiple options, it’s just that.

An ACC logo is seen on a yardage marker during the college football game between the Clemson Tigers and the Louisville Cardinals on November 6, 2021, at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky.

An ACC logo is seen on a yardage marker during the college football game between the Clemson Tigers and the Louisville Cardinals on November 6, 2021, at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. (Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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“You’re not trying to eliminate potential opportunities, you’re trying to create. … You can do something with your network. You can do something with events. You can do something certainly with expansion if you so choose. But there has to a value in whatever move you end up making.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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