Published Monday, April 22, 2013 AT 9:03 PM / Updated at 9:40 PM
Realignment, expansion not out of the question
Lee Barfknecht Omaha World-Herald

Don’t slam the door on future college conference expansion and realignment just yet.

The trendy instant reaction Monday to news that members of the Atlantic Coast Conference agreed to a “grant of rights” clause for its television and media was that it would halt realignment.

By the schools “granting” media rights to the conference for 14 years, the theory is that it would be too costly for a school to change leagues because it wouldn’t have much of value to “carry” to a new league.

Several old friends in the business of college athletics I talked to Monday said they wouldn’t bet their own money on that.

These people — from conference offices and major-college athletic departments — all agreed that any number of lawyers would be delighted to challenge those deals in court.

The ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have such deals.

As one buddy with a wicked sense of humor said, “Do you really think Texas would sign up for something it couldn’t get out of?”

As a sidenote, two sources have told The World-Herald that the Big Ten has done prior “homework” on Oklahoma, Kansas and Vanderbilt among other schools who might some day be expansion targets. The Big 12 grant-of-rights deal didn’t stop a look-see for OU and KU.

Besides a legal challenge, the potential future TV money available could still make it profitable for a school to move.

So what do you take from all this? When the most powerful people in college athletics want something, there are ways to do it, regardless of the contracts and paperwork in place.

About Lee Barfknecht

Lee Barfknecht has won nine national writing awards from four separate organizations, and is a 12-time winner of the Nebraska sportswriter of the year award. He covers Big Ten football and basketball, Nebraska basketball and other college financial issues for The World-Herald. You can email Lee at