Atlantic Coast Conference presidents and chancellors held a conference call Tuesday but took no action on West Coast expansion with California and Stanford, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league isn’t publicly revealing internal discussions regarding realignment. Another person with knowledge of the situation said the conference’s athletic directors were planning to have a call later Tuesday to continue discussions. The ADs also met Monday.
A third person told AP on condition of anonymity that the ACC’s conversations also include the possibility of adding SMU, the Dallas school currently in the American Athletic Conference.
The Pac-12 is down to four schools committed to the conference beyond the upcoming school year. This will be the last season in the Pac-12 for USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington, which are all headed for the Big Ten in 2024. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will join the Big 12 next year.
The new Big Ten setup means athletes will be routinely crossing multiple time zones to compete.
“I share concerns about the impact that the recent spate of conference realignment activities will have on student-athletes’ well-being,” NCAA president Charlie Baker said in statement. “The recent conference moves highlight what I found during my review of the issues facing the NCAA – the growing gap between well-resourced Division I schools and the rest of the division is highly disruptive for all of DI and college sports overall.”
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey said on the SEC Network’s “Paul Finebaum Show” that his league is not motivated to react to the recent moves.
“I would submit we’re in an enormously healthy place. We’re not in the current movement efforts,” said Sankey, whose conference tipped the first domino in this round of realignment in 2021 when Texas and Oklahoma decided to make leave the Big 12 for the SEC.
“We don’t need to be in four time zones to generate interest on the West Coast, or really across the globe,” Sankey said.
Sankey also said if the Pac-12 were to fold, decreasing the number of Bowl Subdivision conferences from nine to 10, that would likely re-open discussions about the format for the expanded 12-team playoff that goes into effect in 2024.
The format agreed upon calls for the six highest-ranked conference champions to receive automatic entrance and six at-large teams based on selection committee rankings.
“I do think the access we’ve created to the 12-team format still seems wise, but maybe there are elements and specifics of what was decided when we had clarity around 10 conferences that needs to be adjusted given what’s happening right now,” Sankey said.
The ACC, which has 14 schools — but none farther west than Louisville — had interest in the Pac-12 before the conference splintered last week. Stanford and Cal, two of the country’s most prestigious academic schools, would fit the profile of traditional ACC schools such as Duke, North Carolina and Virginia.
Without another Power Five conference option, routinely traveling teams across country to compete might be the best alternative for Stanford and California.
A deal with the ACC would leave just Washington State and Oregon State as Pac-12 members beyond the 2023-24 school year, and increase the likelihood that the Pac-12 simply goes out of business.
Both the Mountain West and American Athletic have interest in adding those schools.
AP Sports Writer Aaron Beard contributed to this report.
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