Cal, SMU, Stanford to join ACC in 2024

By Brian Wilmer -

The Cal Bears, SMU Mustangs, and Stanford Cardinal will join the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2024 season, the conference announced Friday.

“We are thrilled to welcome three world-class institutions to the ACC, and we look forward to having them compete as part of our amazing league,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, Ph.D. “Throughout the evaluation process, the ACC Board of Directors, led by President Ryan, was deliberate in prioritizing the best possible athletic and academic experience for our student-athletes and in ensuring that the three universities would strengthen the league in all possible ways. Cal, SMU and Stanford will be terrific members of the ACC and we are proud to welcome their student-athletes, coaches, staff and entire campus community, alumni and fans.”

Cal has been part of the iterations of the Pac-12 since it became the Pacific Coast Conference in 1916. The Golden Bears have 12 PCC championships, a Pac-8 title, and a Pac-10 crown. Stanford was a two-time member of the PCC and has been part of the now Pac-12 since 1959. The Cardinal have eight PCC titles, two Pac-8 titles, two Pac-10 crowns, and three Pac-12 trophies.

SMU joined the American in 2013. All 11 of their conference crowns came during their time in the Southwest Conference.

With the addition of Cal, SMU, and Stanford, the ACC will expand to a total of 18 members spanning states from coast-to-coast. SMU will join the league July 1, 2024, while Cal and Stanford will enter on Aug. 2, 2024.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco issued this statement on SMU’s departure:

“SMU has shared our pursuit of competition at the highest level throughout its time in the American Athletic Conference. President Gerald Turner and Athletic Director Rick Hart have been among our strongest advocates and leaders both internally and externally. We wish them well.

“We have known that today’s move was a possibility, which has allowed us time to investigate a number of options, including consideration of the larger group of institutions in the Pacific time zone. We have concluded, however, that the best way to proceed for our outstanding student-athletes is to not look westward. Instead, we plan to focus any expansion efforts on schools that allow for sensible and sustainable competition and student-athlete well-being within our strong geographic footprint. We look forward to continued success as a leading FBS conference.”

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Comments (32)

Memphis should also be added. An even number of schools works better than an odd number for football scheduling since ND is independent in football. Not to mention Memphis is good in basketball.

I’m not sure Memphis could afford to join the ACC…? SMU got in because they agreed not to take ANY tv money for 7 years or something. They basically figured that their rich, private school alumni would fill the void for the better part of a decade so they could get out of their post-death-penalty shunning.

On the other hand, I could see ND agreeing to play more ACC football games a year now. They currently play Stanford annually so that would now be an ACC opponent. They also really hate the idea of being stuck in only one region, so adding Cali and Texas to the entire east coast… you can kind of see why ND would push for the ACC to make these invitations. It helps them stay part-way Indy even if the Big 10 and SEC were to start playing hardball about scheduling games in hopes of forcing them to join.

If you want to find another school who could join the ACC the same way, since all the football blue bloods probably won’t budge, you’d probably have to look at rich private schools.

Uconn should be added before anyone else.

Though I don’t know they would accept pending the ACC implosion in 2036. Also, they would not agree to no media right for 9 years like SMU.

Tulane and Rice are both private schools and are situated reasonably as travel partners for SMU, but I’m not sure either of them have the rich alumni that are as sports-crazed, and neither has quite the chip on their shoulder that SMU has from having their program be crushed via the “death penalty.”

Rice would be a nice get academically, and their baseball program would fit right in with the ACC, but I’m not sure their athletics budget is the thing that they could rally the alumni to prop up…? I actually think that if Rice DID make decent tv money, their athletics programs would improve accordingly because they do have their share of advantages to draw decent recruits, including being in the middle of a huge recruiting territory in Houston. I’m not saying they’d become a Clemson in the ACC, but if they were getting a full ACC share, it’s not that hard to imagine them building to the kind of success Wake Forest has. And they are technically on the Atlantic Ocean.. ish. The Gulf of Mexico *is* part of the Atlantic. ACC!

Tulane has had a bit more football success recently, and has some decent baseball runs. It has the academics as well. I don’t know if they have the alumni who would shell out while the athletic department takes an unpaid internship with the ACC, but it may have a better chance than public schools like Memphis or UConn.

Look, trying to make decisions based on what “makes sense” is a little out the window now. UConn should absolutely be in the ACC. Or part of the eastern flank of the Big 12 (which was expanding a year ago, but now looks bare compared to their western flank). Memphis should be in one or the other.

But look at the headline of the article. STANFORD AND CAL! SMU! In the **ATLANTIC COAST** CONFERENCE! In a move that is separate from every other Pac 12 school! If the first 2 seemed super awkward geographically, the 3rd one makes it feel even more disjointed. It makes sense that Stanford and Cal should be in a power conference. It makes sense that SMU is tired of being punished for something that happened in the 1980s while all but 1* of their former SWC friends have made it to the Big 12 or SEC. But them joining a conference literary on the opposite side of the country…? And adding a team mid-way to bridge the gap? It no longer makes sense in any of the normal ways we’d think of it.

*I’m not counting Southwestern or Phillips that were each SWC members for 2 years or less over 100 years ago since one isn’t FBS and the other doesn’t exist as a university anymore.

UConn should have joined the ACC instead of SMU due to its historic rivalry with Notre Dame in women’s basketball. It would have made more sense IMO. #conferencerealignment :)

I have been waiting for this moment for a while. I posted this back when UCLA and USC decided to leave the PAC for Big 10. If you missed my first expansion idea here is a recap:

(Round 1)
Let make college football great again!!!
Clemson to the PAC 12
Oregon to the Big Sky
NMSU to the SEC
Hawaii to the ACC
Notre Dame to the MAC
Alabama drops football
2 team playoff
Ohio St and Michigan become best friends
The WAC becomes a Power 5 Conference
Scrap the Rose Bowl
Georgia moves to Alaska
Houston Baptist beats Georgia
The Ivy League folds
Syracuse joins the MWC
Kansas makes it to a bowl game

(Round 2)
Let make college football great again…….again!!!
FBS creates 133 post season bowl games
Auburn and Alabama become best friends
University of New Mexico gets #1 in the AP poll and the coaches poll
UConn creates a rivalry trophy with Georgia
Alabama joins the PAC 2
West Carolina International Northeast Gulf Ocean Coast Crust University joins the SEC
Rhode Island becomes a bigger state
Clemson joins a College Euro League
The Cleveland Browns make it to a bowl game ..not super bowl (small steps)
Liberty joins the Big Sky Conference
Alaska Pacific University joins the Ivy League
Idaho Vandals build an outside stadium for winter games
United Athletic Conference becomes the best of the Power 5 conferences
Cal moves to Maine
Ohio State joins the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in Division III
I become the first non college football player to win the Heisman Trophy

Remember it doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to make money.

The moves just get dumber and dumber. Clemson and Florida State voted no. Don’t be surprised if this move makes CU and FSU leave the ACC even though niether one really wants to.

I feel they are going to leave regardless. So good for the ACC for looking out for themselves.

Would be nice to add Rice, Tulane, Memphis to make it an even 20. Bring in Connecticut when ND finally joins. An Army-Navy duo or Temple-Villanova duo would make sense down the road.

There are reasons for all of this. The ACC must maintain a certain number of schools in order for the tv contracts to not be able to be reduced. They added enough schools so that they could survive several departures if it ever happened and the ACC wouldn’t have to renegotiate from scratch. The schools with their eye on the door who feel most certain about their landing spots are the ones who voted “no.” Adding schools doesn’t help their departure, and they don’t care if the other ACC schools still get the same levels of tv money if they end up figuring out how to leave the conference (since the grant of rights is still currently a sticking point and would become a legal circus even if they’re ultimately told they can take back their tv rights if they depart the ACC. Heck, they may even want some of the other ACC schools to come along if they leave. But for everyone else, they see a little more money and a bit more security in case the other big conferences aren’t sure about adding them.

Anyone that can leave for the SEC or BIG10 is going to in a heartbeat. They will once allowed to.

Clemson, FSU, NC State, Virginia tech to SEC
Virginia, Duke, UNC, Georgia Tech to BIG10
Miami, Pitt, Louisville, Syracuse to BIG12

ACC adds best of the rest to stay alive but will be American 2.0

Mike – a lot of that looks like it makes sense, but as we’ve seen, odds are pretty good that some part of it won’t make sense. And I don’t think anyone really knows how the timing will play out with the whole GOR thing. FSU may already have the lawyers pitching a plan to test this year… or it might actually hold through 2036. My guess is something between the two, but at this point who really knows?

But yeah, don’t be shocked if the Big 10 takes a stab at one of the Florida schools. Don’t be surprised if the SEC makes UNC their top priority and adds others only if they get who they want. Don’t be surprised if Oklahoma State or Kansas are up for consideration with some of the ACC schools. No matter how perfect you can carve it up, someone will grab a school that doesn’t feel as perfect, and everything will have to adjust accordingly.

Why would West Virginia leave the BIG12 to go to the ACC? BIG12 is better at football and basketball top to bottom plus will be better off after ACC implosion in 2036.

Memphis doesn’t have academics for ACC.

Uconn, MTSU, and WKU moves make sense though.

Well, the ACC payout is several $million more. Also, wouldn’t it just make sense for WVU, Cincinnati, and UCF to go to the ACC, and let the BIG 12 take SMU, and Cal if they want. Rumor is they were looking at San Diego St as well, so I don’t know who would want Cal? Also curious why Stanford doesn’t do what Notre Dame does, and just go independent?,… they a really good athletic department overall, as well as stout academic, and an alumni base with quite a bit of money.


As I understand it, the Big 12 payout from recent tv deal was more than any other conference outside of the SEC and Big 10. By adding Stanford, Cal, and SMU (but only paying Stanford and Cal 30% shares for several years and not paying SMU any tv money at all for several years), the normal ACC shares look like they may get a bump up to the same range as the Big 12, but that increase doesn’t include the 3 new members (who are just happy to have a power conference home), while the 4 new Big 12 additions (Utah, Arizona, ASU, Colorado) will reportedly get full shares. So based on that, WVU would be leaving a conference paying them more money per average member, or mayyyybe around equal money for average members, for a conference that would try to ask them to take a 30% share for 7 years. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, if my understanding is right.

If you’ve seen different contract numbers I’d definitely be interested in reading about them.

Also, the Big 12 has had no interest in SMU for years. That’s kind of the whole point here. SMU has been wanting to get into a power conference again ever since the SWC went away, but while every other SWC team other than Rice will now be in the Big 12 or SEC, the Big 12 doesn’t want a second DFW team and are happy with topping out with 4 Texas teams. SMU was probably working on joining the Pac 12 for years before that conference imploded. Now they are getting into the ACC because they agreed to not take any of the tv money, relying on rich alumni to keep things running, all just so they can get into a power conference.

The Big 12 showed some interest in SDSU… before they were able to add Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State. They had the opportunity to invite Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, and Washington State… and they didn’t. It looks likely that they are sticking with their current 16 members for 2024 forward unless 1) the Big 12 loses any other members, 2) the ACC Grant of Rights comes undone (because that is still FSU and Clemson’s goal for sure, and maybe UNC and several others) and there are teams that aren’t being grabbed up by the Big 10 and SEC, or 3) the Big 12 loses 1 or more members (which currently only seems likely if the SEC or Big 10 come calling).

It wasn’t long ago that ACC’s tv payout might have been more than the Big 12, but unless I’ve missed an update, that’s not currently the case. But like I said, definitely up to read more on the topic if you have a link…

The ACC should give each of its football playing schools 6 protected opponents and 2 rotating on a 10-year schedule (so that a player would see all but two ACC schools during their four-year career, 15 is pretty high a number here), with the protected matchups being these:

Boston College: Clemson, Miami, Pitt, SMU, Stanford, Syracuse
California: Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, NC State, Pitt, Stanford
Clemson: Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, NC State, SMU, Virginia
Duke: Louisville, North Carolina, NC State, Syracuse, Stanford, Wake Forest
Florida State: California, Clemson, Louisville, Miami, NC State, Virginia
Georgia Tech: California, Clemson, Pitt, SMU, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Louisville: Duke, Florida State, Pitt, SMU, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Miami: Boston College, Florida State, Pitt, Stanford, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
North Carolina: California, Duke, NC State, SMU, Virginia, Wake Forest
NC State: California, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Wake Forest
Pitt: Boston College, California, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse
SMU: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, Wake Forest
Stanford: Boston College, California, Duke, Miami, Syracuse, Wake Forest
Syracuse: Boston College, Duke, Miami, Pitt, Stanford, Virginia Tech
Virginia: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech: Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, Syracuse, Virginia, Wake Forest
Wake Forest: Duke, North Carolina, NC State, SMU, Stanford, Virginia Tech

All Tobacco Road match-ups would be protected as would the round-robin between the Northeast schools and Miami.

The reduction of conference games in the Big 12 to 7 and the ACC staying at 8 would give SMU and TCU incentive to continue their rivalry beyond 2025.

Perfect! Absolutely perfect! The only thing that I would consider is that both the ACC and B1G have nine conference games per season. Otherwise, you nailed it! #welldone :-)

No big TV money in West Coast, like East Coast conferences. That time difference is a big difference when dollars are involved. Not to mention the notoriety of the upper-tier conferences.
I’m sure the Collegiate Shuffle is just warming up. Now, if only they could get rid of ESPN!

I think the ACC needs to re-think who Notre Dame plays until 2037. If they want more TV money Notre Dame needs to play 2 of 4 every year between Clemson, Florida St., Miami and Stanford. Then 3 games a year against the other 13 schools. I would think if nearly every year ESPN/ABC gets Notre Dame at Clemson, Florida St. or Miami that ought to help generate more revenue.

The American must add Texas State from the Sun Belt (SBC), as well as both FIU and Louisiana Tech, to be a 16-team conference. All three schools fit the league’s geography perfectly.

The Mountain West must add both Oregon State and Washington State from the now-dead Pac-12, as well as both New Mexico State and UTEP, to be a 16-team conference also.

The SBC must add FCS school Central Arkansas, as well as both Louisiana Tech and Sam Houston from soon-to-be-dead CUSA, to be a 16-team conference also.

The time for all those schools to act and move is NOW. No excuses! #conferencerealignment :-)

You have assigned Louisiana Tech to both the American and the Sun Belt conferences. Maybe that can work?

Sounds like the American is working on negotiating how to add Army football (since Navy is also football-only). Sounds like the biggest complication is that they’d like to keep the Army/Navy game the weekend it currently occurs, which means it would be AFTER conference championship week, so kinda awkward for a conference game. What if it makes a difference in who makes it to the AAC championship game? But it’s always been a bit of a weird date, so… who knows.

Army always made sense for the American.

Maybe they do Army/Navy are a non conference game? I think that’s the only way to do it, meaning the each play 8 American games plus Army/Navy game then 3 other out of conference games.

Maybe add Uconn back as football only with Army?

Whoops! I meant FIU, Louisiana Tech, and Texas State to the American; and Central Arkansas, Sam Houston, and Stephen F. Austin to the SBC. This was a typing error on my part. My bad! #ihadablondemoment :-)


Its right around $8-10 Million in payouts more to be in the ACC over the Big 12,… plus those 3 schools would possibly save a couple million in travel costs by playing in the ACC. Also, the division should come back, but e. without repercussion on the Championship game other than a tie would go to head-to-head if they played each other, then if they didn’t, then division winner would have precedent. The divisions should also be a little bit different whereas the Northern Schools in the Atlantic Conference, and the Southern schools in the Coastal Conference.

Also, now is the time where these power 4 schools should be split off into there own NCAA Division, with a new restructuring of the NCAA divisions. I have good ideas on how they should do it, but I don’t make the rules, lol.