By AARON BEARD and RALPH D. RUSSO (AP Sports Writers)
The Atlantic Coast Conference paved the way for Stanford, Calif. and SMU to join the league next year, two people with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Friday, providing a landing spot for two other disintegrating Pac-12 teams. .
The people spoke on condition of anonymity as an official announcement was still in the works. The presidents and chancellors of the universities in the conference met on Friday morning and voted in favor of inviting the three schools.
These additions make the ACC the latest power conference to expand its membership and presence westward. Beginning in August 2024, the league whose roots are Tobacco Road in North Carolina will increase its number of football schools to 17 and 18 in most other sports, with Notre Dame remaining an independent football.
Notre Dame is currently the westernmost ACC school in South Bend, Indiana, with Louisville being the westernmost among football members.
But now, like the Big Ten, the ACC will be a transnational conference. The ACC will stretch from Boston in the northeast to Miami in southern Florida, to Dallas in the heartland of the southwest and into northern California, where Stanford and Cal reside.
The move appears to be a marriage of desperation for Bay Area schools, which need a Power Five conference as their home after the Pac-12 was split by the Big Ten and Big 12.
For the ACC, the addition of three schools will increase media rights revenue from its long-term deal with ESPN and allow the conference to distribute much of that new money among existing members.
New conference members usually — but not always — forfeit a full revenue share for several years after joining.
Stanford and Cal will be the ninth and tenth schools to inform the Pac-12 that these will be their final athletic seasons in the self-proclaimed Conference of Champions.
The Big Ten drew Oregon and Washington earlier this month. This came just over a year after Southern California and UCLA began migrating West Coast schools east when they announced they were leaving the Pac-12 to the Big Ten in 2024.
The Big 12 has poached four Pac-12 schools for next year: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
The Pac-12 will now travel to Oregon State and Washington State.
Officials at the two Pacific Northwest schools have said the desired way forward is to rebuild the Pac-12, but without Stanford and Cal, it gets even more complicated. Joining the Mountain West or the American Athletic Conference now becomes more likely.
Stanford and Cal have sports programs with a rich history of producing Olympians, stars and Hall of Famers, including Super Bowl-winning quarterback John Elway and Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky and the NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and swimmer Missy Franklin of Cal.
The Cardinal won the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and last year won the Directors’ Cup for the 26th time, which measures the overall success of the athletic department.
Success has been harder to come by in football lately for the Big Game rivals.
After a decade that included three Pac-12 championships and six double-digit winning seasons under coaches Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw, Stanford has dropped to 14-28 over the past four years and now has a new coach in the game. nobody from Troy Taylor.
Cal was mired in mediocrity — and Athletic Department debt — shortly after Rodgers was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 2005. The Bears have just three winning football seasons since 2010.
For SMU, the ACC is a return to major conference football for the first time since the program was infamously shut down by the NCAA as part of penalties for refunding players in the early 1980s.
Although the schools are a far cry from their new conference mates, they bear some similarities to smaller private schools such as Duke, Wake Forest, and Boston College, as well as flagship public schools such as North Carolina and Virginia, which make up the ACC.
AP College Football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll
Want more sports news? Sign up for the Sports Omelette to get all of our analysis on Denver teams.