Stanford, Cal to ACC: The challenges of a choice the Bears and Cardinal had to make

It’s official: Stanford and Cal have accepted invitations from the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning next summer in all sports sponsored by their new home, from football and basketball to soccer, swimming and softball.

Although life in the ACC was a priority for the schools following the Pac-12’s collapse, the Cardinal and Bears will face steep logistical obstacles and have made contractual commitments that could haunt them.

“I question whether this is a good move for Stanford and Cal,” an industry source said. “But they believe it’s the right thing to do.”

You could make the case, it seems, that the schools successfully bargained for membership in the ACC’s Faustian division.

The primary reason for joining the ACC creates the greatest challenge: The athletes at each school told university leaders that they wanted the chance to compete at the highest level of college sports.

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Stanford and Cal were originally rumored to be among a quartet of Pac-12 teams, alongside Oregon and Washington, under consideration for entry to the Big Ten. But as of news the morning of Friday, Sept. 1, the Bay Area schools are joining the ACC.Godofredo A. Vásquez, Associated Press 2022

The Big Ten and Big 12 made more sense logistically but did not offer membership, and the SEC was never an option. Among the Power Five conferences, only the ACC extended a life raft.

“We are very pleased with the outcome, which will support the best interests of our student-athletes and aligns with Berkeley’s values,” Cal chancellor Carol Christ said.

The move also works for the Bay Area schools given their large and powerful alumni bases on the East Coast. The ACC’s footprint stretches from Boston to Miami and features numerous high-end academic schools, from Virginia and Duke to North Carolina, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

Stanford, Cal join the ACC: The challenges of a choice the schools had to make

It’s official: Stanford and Cal have accepted invitations from the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning next summer in all sports sponsored by their new home, from football and basketball to soccer, swimming and softball.

Although life in the ACC was a priority for the schools following the Pac-12’s collapse, the Cardinal and Bears will face steep logistical obstacles and have made contractual commitments that could haunt them.

“I question whether this is a good move for Stanford and Cal,” an industry source said. “But they believe it’s the right thing to do.”

You could make the case, it seems, that the schools successfully bargained for membership in the ACC’s Faustian division.

The primary reason for joining the ACC creates the greatest challenge: The athletes at each school told university leaders that they wanted the chance to compete at the highest level of college sports.

The Big Ten and Big 12 made more sense logistically but did not offer membership, and the SEC was never an option. Among the Power Five conferences, only the ACC extended a life raft.

“We are very pleased with the outcome, which will support the best interests of our student-athletes and aligns with Berkeley’s values,” Cal chancellor Carol Christ said.

The move also works for the Bay Area schools given their large and powerful alumni bases on the East Coast. The ACC’s footprint stretches from Boston to Miami and features numerous high-end academic schools, from Virginia and Duke to North Carolina, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

“ACC membership aligns Stanford with a conference of leading peer institutions who share a deep history of athletic success and a commitment to the pursuit of academic excellence,” said Jerry Yang, chair of Stanford’s trustees. “We appreciate the invitation of the ACC member schools, and we are excited to join them.”

Nor are Stanford and Cal the only newcomers. SMU, which is based in Dallas, has agreed to join the ACC to create an 18-team league. (Notre Dame competes in all sports except football.)

SMU’s presence could allow the conference to schedule neutral-site games that would reduce travel demands for the teams located on both coasts.

According to Stanford, more than half of its sports (22 of its 36) will experience “either no scheduling changes or minimal scheduling impacts.”

But for the others, the travel impact could be severe. There’s simply no way around scheduling multiple trips to the East Coast for conference competition in men’s and women’s basketball, for example.

College Sports

It’s official: Stanford and Cal have accepted invitations from the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning next summer in all sports sponsored by their new home, from football and basketball to soccer, swimming and softball.

Although life in the ACC was a priority for the schools following the Pac-12’s collapse, the Cardinal and Bears will face steep logistical obstacles and have made contractual commitments that could haunt them.

“I question whether this is a good move for Stanford and Cal,” an industry source said. “But they believe it’s the right thing to do.”

You could make the case, it seems, that the schools successfully bargained for membership in the ACC’s Faustian division.

The primary reason for joining the ACC creates the greatest challenge: The athletes at each school told university leaders that they wanted the chance to compete at the highest level of college sports.

The Big Ten and Big 12 made more sense logistically but did not offer membership, and the SEC was never an option. Among the Power Five conferences, only the ACC extended a life raft.

“We are very pleased with the outcome, which will support the best interests of our student-athletes and aligns with Berkeley’s values,” Cal chancellor Carol Christ said.

The move also works for the Bay Area schools given their large and powerful alumni bases on the East Coast. The ACC’s footprint stretches from Boston to Miami and features numerous high-end academic schools, from Virginia and Duke to North Carolina, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

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