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Thrasher disputes report linking FSU communication to SEC

President John Thrasher strongly disputed a South Carolina radio report from Monday, which stated Florida State and Clemson had reached out to the SEC about joining the conference. On Tuesday morning, Thrasher made clear that wasn’t the case.

“I want to be clear that persistent reports that Florida State has been in contact with the Southeastern Conference are untrue,” Thrasher said in a statement released by FSU’s athletics department. “We have had no communication with the SEC or any representatives of the SEC.”

College football realignment discussion has heated up in the past few weeks, reaching a boiling point when Texas and Oklahoma made their intentions to jump to the SEC. Those Big 12 powers could join the SEC after the 2024 season, when the Big 12’s grant of rights agreement expires, or earlier if Texas and Oklahoma are able to work out an agreement.

When Texas and Oklahoma bolted for a new 16-team SEC, it fueled speculation that other schools would also do the same. A report by ESPNUpstate radio, which covers Greenville, Spartanburg and Clemson, stated “Per a reliable source Clemson+Florida State have reached out to the SEC about joining the conference.”

While the Texas-Oklahoma move is almost certainly sparking the creation of super conferences in the coming years, much of it centered around the pursuit of larger TV revenue distribution school by school, the ACC has a grant of rights (GOR) in place through 2036 that binds each league school’s television rights to the league. If any school were to break away from the ACC ahead of 2036, it would be penalized its annual distribution for every year it left the league.

In an interview last week with the Tallahassee Democrat, Thrasher said he wanted FSU “to be prepared. My point to (FSU director of athletics) David Coburn and to (new ACC commissioner) Jim Phillips is I don’t want Florida State to be left behind. I consider us as part of the ACC, but I also know that we have a marquee name, Clemson has a marquee name. I think there might be people coming after us, I don’t know, but we’ve got to be prepared no matter what the options are.”

Thrasher is in the final few weeks as FSU president. Dr. Richard McCullough will take over on Aug. 16, and he has already met with coach Mike Norvell as well as athletics administrators.

There are no meetings for FSU’s Board of Trustees or the FSU Athletics Association currently on the August calendar.

In 2014, when Maryland departed the ACC for the Big Ten, Maryland would have owed $52.2 million to the ACC. Maryland took the ACC to court and the sides agreed to a settlement of $31.4 million.