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Utah Vehemently Denies Rumors About Desire to Leave Big 12 for ACC

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Rumors are a constant due to the recent conference realignment that has changed the landscape of college football forever. On Tuesday, Utah, one of the premiere programs set to debut in the Big 12 in 2024, found itself as the main focus of speculation about changing conferences yet again.

After realizing the rumors were turning into reports, Utah took action and responded to the belief they are already looking to bolt from the Big 12 and join the ACC before even playing a down in their new conference.

The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy shared Utah’s statement on the matter.

“We are proud to be entering into membership in the Big 12 Conference in the coming months & excited to join our new colleagues and member institutions. A report over the weekend that suggested otherwise is completely fabricated and irresponsible.”

So what exactly caused all of the rumors about Utah jumping ship?

According to a report by Dick Weiss of the NY Daily News, there is discussion surrounding Utah possibly flipping to the ACC from the Big 12, which the Utes are officially joining in August. He further reported that the discussion centers around the ACC being a better fit for Utah due to its ESPN Network deal and potential for increased TV value.

But there’s skepticism regarding the stability and attractiveness of the ACC compared to the Big 12.

The ACC is coming off its highest revenue year ever, up nearly $100 million in 2023, and with the new arrivals either taking no TV revenue (SMU) or a very reduced share (Cal and Stanford), it does create additional revenue to be distributed.

Cal, Stanford and SMU will begin ACC play in the 2024 season, in all sports, and all three have agreed to unequal revenue sharing. Cal and Stanford will receive 30% in the first seven years, 70% in the eighth year, 75% in the ninth year and 100% in the last three years. SMU will receive no revenue shares over the first nine years.

That revenue will be circulated back into the ACC, with all 14 previous full-time members and Notre Dame receiving a reported $50-60 million — and additional revenue able to be earned through winning.

According to a report by Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the ACC brought in $707 million in revenue last year, which was third most among Power Five conferences (behind the SEC and Big Ten) and an increase of nearly $100 million.

“About $38 million of its increase came from TV revenue,” Berkowitz wrote. “The conference said in a statement that this was driven in part by Comcast picking up the ACC Network in December 2021, which made 2023 the first full fiscal year in which the network had reached full distribution.

“The conference increased its bowl revenue by about $40 million compared to 2022, primarily because the Orange Bowl was not a College Football Playoff semifinal following the 2022 season, so the ACC could get revenue from that game. That didn’t happen when the Orange Bowl was a semifinal after the 2021 season.”

Berkowitz further reported that the individual payout was somewhere between $43.3 million and $46.9 million, averaging $44.8 million. Notre Dame received $22.1 million as an independent.

As for the Big 12, the conference will compete as a 16-team conference for the first time in 2024 after the departures of marque members Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will become members in the summer of 2024 joining Baylor, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

Part of this story initially appeared on our partner Pittsburgh Sports Now.

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