The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU to join Atlantic Coast Conference

The Mustangs will join 17 other teams in the ACC beginning in 2024. Photo courtesy of SMU.

DALLAS- SMU will join the ACC with 12 out of 15 votes from current conference members.

ACC presidents and chancellors reached their final decision Friday morning after weeks of deliberation and delays.

“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 in a statement published by the ACC Friday. “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.”

The announcement brought a roar of excitement to campus. Mustang fans said they can’t wait to see SMU on a bigger stage with the new Power 5 status. SMU senior and longtime fan Izzy Hoskins shared her thoughts following the announcement.

“I actually cried,” Hoskins said. “I’m an SMU fan from birth and SMU sports have just been a huge part of my life so seeing them succeed finally on this national level is really exciting to me.”

It kind of felt like a lifelong dream come true.

— Izzy Hoskins

The ACC has not added new members since accepting the University of Louisville in 2014. Now the Mustangs, along with California and Stanford, bring the conference count to 18 teams effective beginning in the 2024-2025 academic year.

Financial Cost

This ACC move did not come without a price.

ACC financial reports from the 2021-2022 season showed each school received nearly $40 million in distribution payments.

SMU reportedly told the ACC that they would be willing to forfeit any distribution payment for several years, said a source with knowledge on the SMU Football Program to The Associated Press. Similarly, Cal and Stanford agreed to only take a percentage of their respective distribution payments.

SMU must also pay an early exit fee to terminate their contract with the American Athletic Conference and ESPN which is not up until 2031. SMU’s amount due is unknown, but Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston each paid $18 million to the AAC last year for early termination on their way to the Big 12 according to the Dallas Morning News.

But when could SMU expect to see any financial gain from the conference move?

Amanda Christovich, college sports reporter at Front Office Sports, says SMU will likely be playing catch up for a while, but some money will come in early on.

“I don’t necessarily think the rewards will outweigh the costs immediately,” said Christovich. “The rumor is that boosters and donors will fund closing the gap for the media rights revenue that they won’t get over nine years. They will probably get around $9 million from the ACC from non-media conference distributions.”


The financial hurdles are concerning to some, but others see them as strictly temporary and are focused on the future outlook for SMU athletics. The ACC sponsors 28 sports, including 15 for women, and SMU currently competes in 17 as a member of the AAC.

“I think our football team is geared to take a turn and potentially be like the Pony Express part II,” Hoskins said. “I also think swimming and diving is a big thing with other schools in the ACC and women’s soccer is really going to succeed playing against teams like UNC.”

There is the prospect of adding new sports to grow into the ACC. Fans like Hoskins are hoping to see baseball or field hockey added to the Hilltop.

Recruiting is also an area that will likely see a significant impact with the new conference. Christovich said the ACC status will likely provide SMU with marketing appeal for new recruits.

“For them to be able to say they are Power 5, or potentially Power 4 depending on the PAC 12, implicitly helps with recruiting because there is a sort of prestige to it,” said Christovich. “But there is also the media reach and the visibility that you get by being in a Power 4 or 5 conference.”


The ACC places importance on academic reputation alongside athletics. President R. Gerald Turner is hopeful to see what being a part of the highly achieving ACC academic pool will mean for SMU.

“In addition to its influence on our athletics programs, being formally associated with the outstanding academic institutions in the ACC will also be beneficial to the academic community of SMU,” President Turner said.

Almost all ACC member schools, with the exception of the University of Louisville, are ranked in the top 100 national universities according to U.S. News rankings from 2022-2023. SMU fits the reputation and was ranked 72nd.

Future Outlook

SMU fans and students are wondering what the new deal means for the future.

SMU will have to grow into its new status by recruiting and building a reputation within the conference.

Christovich said the effects will certainly not show SMU’s athletic programs’ full potential in the immediate future. She also said that it will likely take a while for SMU Football to be conference champions or get an at-large bid to College Football Playoffs in their first two years as ACC members.

Back on the Hilltop, SMU students, fans and staff are just taking in what they feel is great news for the future of the school.

“This is a transformational day for SMU,” said President Turner in a statement to the ACC Friday. “Becoming a member of the ACC will positively impact all aspects of the collegiate experience on the Hilltop and will raise SMU’s profile on a national level.”

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About the Contributor
Caleigh Daugherty
Caleigh Daugherty, Sports Editor I
As one of two sports editors, Caleigh coordinates and covers SMU varsity, club and intramural sports, telling readers what to expect and providing context for the major games and decisions, such as leaving the AAC for the ACC. Caleigh also keeps readers updated on trends in sports and updates SMU varsity sports scores, rosters and standings online. She works closely with the sideline photographer and other editors to coordinate online content for audience engagement.  You can reach Caleigh at [email protected].