The fate of the Stanford and Cal athletic departments is expected to be decided by early next week, and possibly in the next 72 hours, as the schools anxiously await invitations from the ACC.
Adrift for 19 days following the collapse of the Pac-12, the Cardinal and Bears have experienced fits and starts in their ongoing pursuit of shelter in a conference based in the Eastern Time Zone.
The Bay Area schools are being considered for membership in the ACC starting next summer along with SMU, which is located in Dallas.
Among the many unknowns: Which Olympic sports teams would compete in the ACC alongside the football and basketball programs?
“It looks like it’s happening,” an industry source with knowledge of the ACC’s plans, said Wednesday.
However, the source cautioned that the apparent momentum for Stanford and Cal could disappear quickly — such is the deeply complicated, highly fluid nature of conference realignment. The schools were optimistic last week, as well, only to have obstacles surface within the ACC’s power structure.
To gain admittance, Stanford and Cal would need approval from 12 of the ACC’s 15 schools. Thus far, four have stood in opposition: North Carolina, N.C. State, Clemson and Florida State.
What could prompt at least one to switch positions? Money.
Stanford and Cal have offered to join the ACC at discounts — they would not receive full annual revenue shares from the conference’s media rights deal with ESPN. That would create additional cash, from a pool of money generated by expansion, for the ACC’s existing schools. (SMU has offered to join with no media revenue for a number of years, according to ESPN).
The ACC presidents are expected to discuss the situation Thursday, according to Yahoo.
If the Cardinal and Bears don’t receive invitations from the ACC, they would seemingly have two options available:
— Compete as Independents in football and place their other sports in the Mountain West or West Coast Conference.
— Join Washington State and Oregon State in rebuilding the Pac-12, with additions from the Mountain West and perhaps the American Athletic Conferences.
Both options are fraught with challenges.
Then again, so is competing in a league based in Charlotte.
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