The conference realignment drama continues. A few weeks ago, Syracuse and Pittsburgh both left the Big East Conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Some had believed that ESPN had some hand in this, as the Big East had turned down a billion dollar television contract from ESPN in May. Thought is that ESPN was mad, and decided to tell the ACC to go after the Big East, of course this was just a rumor. Then Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo opened his mouth:
“We always keep our television partners close to us,” he said. “You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV – ESPN – is the one who told us what to do.”
Wait one second, ESPN told you (the ACC) what to do? I understand the power of media and media contracts in college sport, but is ESPN really pulling the strings? Are they colluding with the ACC to try and kill the Big East, one of their competitors for viewership and television dollars on the East coast?
An ACC spokesperson was quick to comment this was not truly the case.
“We’ve got a great partnership and a great working relationship with ESPN,” an A.C.C. spokesperson said. “But they have never and will never dictate to us, especially in regards to expansion.”
So we have an AD who says ESPN told them what to do, and they listened. Then you have a conference spokesperson who says the opposite. I think something fishy is going on. The question is, can they do anything about it? Is this a potential antitrust violation? I really do not know, and I’d like to hear what others have to say. The Boston Globe has reported that Boston College made a big play in blocking local rival UCONN from joining the ACC as well. Again DeFilippo:
“We didn’t want them in,” Boston College’s athletic director, Gene DeFilippo, told The Globe. “It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team.”
There is going to be some bad blood when the dust settles, and all is said and done in the conference realignment. Interestingly, The New York Times is hinting that the University of Missouri is the big piece of the puzzle. If they move, it could cause a landslide in many different directions.