- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Cincinnati has sent the ACC a holiday card and updates on Nippert Stadium upgrades, hoping to keep the league continually aware of its program.
UConn has tried to sell itself to the ACC going on two years now.
But news Monday that the ACC has agreed to a grant of rights signals both schools could very well be members of the American Athletic Conference well into the future. Not exactly what either school wants to hear today.
The grant of rights means the ACC has essentially blocked potential suitors from poaching league schools. The penalties for leaving are simply too high, when you factor in this agreement and the $50 million exit fee.
So as the ACC sits at 14 members, plus Notre Dame in all sports but football, there is little reason to believe the league would expand to 16 schools without prompting. In other words, it would take departures or expansion at other conferences to force the ACC to add new member schools.
Neither one seems imminent. Not with the ACC joining the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 with a grant of rights. While it is true that these conferences could go after programs in conferences like the AAC should they decide to expand, that idea is unrealistic. That seems obvious for the ACC. Take the Big Ten as another example.
Cincinnati and UConn are not members of the Association of American Universities, and they bring no real monetary value from a television rights perspective. The Big Ten already has Ohio State and Rutgers, so adding two schools in similar regions is not going to bring in more money to the league.
The truth is, the ACC is the only league that makes sense for both schools. That is why both made furious sales pitches for membership after Maryland departed for the Big Ten. Both lost out to Louisville, growing as a huge realignment winner with each passing day.
Without the ACC as a viable option, it appears both Cincinnati and UConn may be in the AAC for quite a bit longer.
20hTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney