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April 22, 2013

FSU Prez Eric Barron cites stability, revenue in GOR decision

Florida State can kick back and get comfortable in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

All 15 ACC presidents, including FSU's Eric Barron, signed a 15-year grant of media rights deal with the ACC. The agreement was formally announced by the league on Monday.

The deal, which runs through the 2026-27 season, means that any ACC school leaving the conference would forfeit its TV revenues in a new conference, making a conference switch financially unfeasible. The ACC joins the Big 10, Pac 12 and Big 12 as leagues with the grant of media rights in place with its members and the ACC's deal could have a ripple effect, preventing other conference realignment nationwide.

For Barron, who said he discussed the decision to sign the grant of rights with FSU Board of Trustees members and alumni, it was about stability and the potential "significant" revenue gain of a conference television network. With the grant of rights in place a league network is more realistic, and the revenue increase is reportedly more than $3 million - going from its current $17 million annual payout topping $20 million.

(Update: Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that the increase from $17 million to $20 million annually would NOT include a network and is predicated on the addition of Notre Dame. That means there is potential for the annual payout to increase further with a TV network in the future).

"I think very significant in the whole process is the nearly complete negotiations with ESPN which involve a proposed significant increase in our TV revenues and also a path forward with an ACC Newtork," Barron told Warchant.com. "I think the revenues are extremely important to us, and one of the key elements of that negotiation is the desire from ESPN as well as the ACC presidents that we increase the stability of the power conferences in the country. So all of these things go hand in hand."

"This announcement further highlights the continued solidarity and commitment by our member institutions," said ACC commissioner John Swofford. "The Council of Presidents has shown tremendous leadership in insuring the ACC is extremely well positioned with unlimited potential."

Barron said the discussion among league presidents regarding a grant of rights began once conference realignment heated up two years ago. Barron said that uncertainty popped up during the league's negotiations with ESPN, potentially hindering the ability to maximize the value of the league's TV contract.

"So then my feeling became rather obvious on how we should proceed," he said.

"I think it's more connected to the fact that the stability is generating a lot more resources and a lot more opportunity. And all of that discussion, in my view, was hindering out ability to attract those resources and that became much clearer in our negotiations with ESPN."

When asked whether anything else was negotiated among league members before agreeing to sign, Barron said that the "entire focus" revolved around the league increasing revenue as a whole, not on any changes to the league's equal revenue sharing policy or how the ACC currently determines bowl payouts.

"The entire focus of the discussion was substantially increasing the revenues coming into the ACC," Barron said. "And a great deal of discussion on the role of the network given the fact that's probably the biggest differentiator between any of the conferences. That was really the focal point."

In each of the past two offseasons, Florida State has been a central talking point in the speculation of conference realignment. While a faction of the fanbase has longed for a different pasture, Barron believes the new deal brings the league's revenue among the nation's top leagues, and overall, strengthens FSU's position.

"All of the discussions about who is going where, most of it just made up, has gotten the attention of every single president out there because it gets to the point where it actually starts to harm the ability to attract resources. I think this is a case in point there," Barron said.

"The stability is generating a lot more resources and a lot more opportunity."

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