Report: Clemson Is Bolting The ACC Sooner Rather Than Later

ACC exodus starting in Tigertown?

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College football has been turned on its ear in recent years by the playoff system, conference realignment, the transfer portal and big dollar name, image and likeness (NIL) deals. As the sport moves boldly into the unknown, conventional wisdom has held that Clemson University – a perennial national championship contender in football – would at some point depart the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

According to reporter Gene Sapakoff of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier, that “point” could be coming far sooner than anyone anticipated.

Sapakoff published a story this week detailing plants by Tiger administrators to “bolt” from the ACC imminently.

“Sooner rather than later,” one of Sapakoff’s sources, a “senior administrator” at the school, said.

Sooner … as in 2023.

“Stay very tuned,” the source added.

Very tuned?



What’s the rush for the Tigers? Duh. Money.

The Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) doled out $58.8 million and $49.9 million, respectively, to member institutions in 2021-2022, according to data compiled by USA Today. Meanwhile, the ACC paid out anywhere between $38 million and $41 million per school.

Worse for ACC schools, the immediate gap in revenue is expected to widen over the next decade-and-a-half as the SEC and Big Ten begin new television deals while the ACC remains stuck in its long-term deal with ESPN – which runs through 2036. ACC teams are also cut out of broadcast revenue via a “grant-of-rights” they signed back in 2012-2013 when the conference was making its last big expansion.

The “grant-of-rights” deal gave the conference the exclusive ability to televise member schools’ home games. Along with hefty exit fees, its goal was to keep the expanded ACC intact.

Back in May, sportswriter Brett McMurphy noted that the ACC’s “magnificent seven” – Clemson, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech – were meeting with lawyers about the grant-of-rights deal in order to “determine just how unbreakable it is.”

Are they making progress?

(Click to View)

Clemson wide receiver Beaux Collins (80) is congratulated by Clemson offensive lineman Mitchell Mayes (77) after scoring against Charleston Southern in Clemson, S.C. on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. (Travis Bell/SIDELINE CAROLINA)

Sapakoff’s Clemson sources cited “strength in numbers” in connection with their imminent departure talk, which would seem to indicate the answer to that question is “yes.”

Assuming they can break the ACC’s “grant-of-rights” stranglehold … where would Clemson go?

South Carolina has made it clear it doesn’t want the Tigers in the SEC – and SEC leaders have hinted they are content with the conference’s latest expansion, which will bring Oklahoma and Texas into the fold next year.

That would make the Big Ten the most logical landing spot for Clemson – and possibly North Carolina and Florida State as well. However, the SEC covets the Tar Heels, too – and would likely consider another expansion if they were in the mix.

The ACC was founded in 1953 with Clemson and South Carolina among its founding members. South Carolina left in 1971, however, and Maryland – another founding member – left in 2014. The conference is set to absorb California, Stanford and Southern Methodist in 2024.

Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina all voted against those conference additions, incidentally – signaling the growing rift within the conference.



Will Folks (Dylan Nolan)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.



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The Colonel Top fan September 27, 2023 at 9:11 pm

Striving for the almighty dollar and the NCAA’s stranglehold are rapidly destroying / have destroyed college sports – I say good riddance! College football and basketball have become nothing more than the minor leagues for the NFL and NBA Baseball has figured a way to have their minor leagues effectively at their own expense.

Joseph Jeter Top fan September 28, 2023 at 6:19 am

NIL and the transfer portal, to a lesser degree, have destroyed college football. Of course Dabo is mad because he can’t compete when everyone can pay players. The “love offerings” at Newspring Church can no longer draw in recruits like it did in the past.

J Monday Top fan September 28, 2023 at 6:36 am

NIL is the devil & is wrecking college football. There is no oversight or consistency. That being said, 2 CA teams being in ACC is about as ridiculous.

Ralph Hightower Top fan September 28, 2023 at 6:50 am

What will the ACC call themselves?

The PGAC? Pacific, Gulf, and Atlantis Conference?

Compost Bin September 28, 2023 at 8:41 am

Just call them the TSC – Table Scraps Conference.

Chris Castro Top fan October 2, 2023 at 3:52 pm

Leaving the ACC is idiotic. It is not for geographic “fit”, or to improve their lot. Name a SINGLE team that has switched conferences and improved themselves? There isn’t one. Ask Texas A&M how it is working out for them. Nebraska, too. Oh, yeah, the “money”, right? Ask any team other than Michigan and Ohio State how the “money” situation is working out for them. By that logic, “the money”, Minnesota, Rutgers, Indiana, Mich St., Iowa, should be contending for a BIG10 title. Of course, the are not and never will – because the “money” makes ZERO difference. Just a good talking point for morons who want Clemson and Free Shoes to switch conferences.


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