It’s about this time of year — every year — when the talk of realignment in college sports is front and center. That happened again this week as seven ACC institutions [Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia & Virginia Tech], known as the “Magnificent 7,” banded together to potentially challenge the ACC’s grant-of-rights.
Two days later, it would appear things have calmed down as the ACC held spring meetings this week, and Commissioner Jim Phillips came out of those meetings with a message of unity.
“We’re all in this together,” Phillips said the athletic directors of the seven schools above assured him per Andrea Adelson and David Hale of ESPN. “We believe in the ACC, and we want to continue to work together.”
Essentially, the seven schools realized that challenging the unbreakable grant of rights might create more trouble for each institution and the rest of the league rather than improving things.
“These are schools that are under a lot of stress and a lot of pressures and, and I understand that,” Phillips said. “The reality is our conference is third in the country in distribution, and as we look at the projections, at least in this decade, we’re going to continue to be there. Now, we want to close the gap. We need to close the gap between the top two conferences that have started to run away from us.”
Phillips is in a tough spot. His predecessor, John Swofford, did him no favors and left the ACC in a difficult position moving forward. While the SEC and Big Ten have always had excellent leadership with an eye on the future, Swofford, more often than not, had his eye on one institution rather than the entire league.
More from Phillips:
“In those moments, I think they either splinter you more, if that’s the direction, or they have a chance to bring you together and galvanize it some,” Phillips said. “I think everybody had a chance to talk. All 14, 15 schools had a chance to describe how they were feeling about it. That has to happen if you’re going to get to an end result. Then, along the road, you’re going to have some of these bumps and you’re going to have some of these things that you’ve got to work through.”
This should dampen any talk of Virginia Tech — or anyone else — heading for greener pastures anytime soon. But you can bet the administration of these ACC schools is always keeping an eye open on the future.