The Big Ten May Have No Choice But To Stay At 14

Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

The ACC is reportedly on the verge of doing something that could put an end to Big Ten expansion, and possibly conference realignment in general.

Earlier today I wrote about the Big Ten's new schedules and at the end of the post I mentioned something about how these new divisions were only in play until the Big Ten added a few more schools. That's because this morning I felt it was a foregone conclusion that the Big Ten would expand to 16 from 14 sooner rather than later.

Well, that theory took a body blow on Monday afternoon with the news that the ACC is expected to agree to a Grant of Rights deal.

The ACC is expected to announce a Grant of Rights agreement among its 15 members as early to today, CBSSports.com has learned.

ACC presidents are in the process of clearing this with their departments. The agreement will go to 2026-27, the duration of the league's contract with ESPN. The deal is not official just yet but, barring an unforseen snag, will be completed.

Unless a league member decides to go to litigation to escape this down the road, the ACC believes a Grant of Rights will protect it from conference realignment poachers.

The North Carolina-based David Glenn Show reported the news Monday afternoon.

This is the same thing the Big 12 did a few years ago when it seemed it was on the verge of being destroyed. If you're not sure what a grant of rights is, it's pretty simple.

The way it generally works now, when Maryland leaves the ACC for the Big Ten it brings the television rights to its games to the conference with hit. Which means that the Big Ten Network can broadcast Maryland football and basketball games as its own, and also include those games in its contracts with ESPN. Well, what a grant of rights does is have the school grant the television rights to its games to the conference.

In other words, if Virginia agrees to this grant of rights and then leaves to join the Big Ten, the ACC will still own all of Virginia's television rights -- read $$$$ -- through 2027. And since the only reason the Big Ten has expanded in the first place was to add more television markets for its network, there will be no reason for the Big Ten to add Virginia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina or any ACC school without the television rights.

Which means that, if true, the Big Ten's expansion is likely over. I know UConn and Cincinnati would both love to get out of the Big East, but neither brings the television markets to the conference to make the move worth it. The Big Ten Network is already in Ohio, and Connecticut's televisions alone aren't worth it.

Really the only viable candidates for Big Ten expansion were all in the ACC and Big 12 and now both conferences appear to have grant of rights deals.

Follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Like us on Facebook. You can follow Tom Fornelli on Twitter at @TomFornelli.

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