As part of a nearly 30-minute conversation with reporters Thursday morning at the conclusion of the ACC spring meetings, Swofford said he wanted to "protect" his member schools from experiencing the types of financial loses that FSU saw in December.
The Seminoles lost about $440,000 in ticket expenses after last December's ACC Championship Game against Georgia Tech in Charlotte, N.C. FSU won the game 21-15, earning an automatic bid to the Orange Bowl. The matchup featured a 6-6 Yellow Jackets team that backdoored into the contest after North Carolina was unable to participate due to a conference-imposed postseason ban, due to NCAA sanctions.
The Tar Heels had officially won the Coastal Division through a sequence of tiebreakers. FSU fans, saving for a then-anticipated trip weeks later to the Orange Bowl, were mostly uninspired by the Yellow Jackets' appearance and stayed away from the game. Tickets went for as little as $5 on StubHub.com the week before the contest.
As a result, FSU was unable to sell its alloted 10,000 tickets.
"We want to protect the schools better going forward on the ticketing side of things because there's going to be plenty of revenue," Swofford said. "The net effect of postseason football, our championship game and our bowl games is going to be very much on the high side from a financial standpoint."
The ACC is still determining what exactly its bowl future will be. With recent additions to the conference in Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville, and a partial addition in Notre Dame, the bowl setup is expected to change in the coming years. Swofford said Thursday that he anticipated the conference to have nine or 10 bowl partnerships. They're all probably "weeks" away from being announced, he said.
FSU wasn't the only school that lost money during the championship game. Georgia Tech has reported losses, too.
According to Rivals.com affiliate Warchant.com, the Yellow Jackets are projecting losses of more than $375,000 due to tickets their athletics offices also couldn't sell. Like the Seminoles, those losses are separate from ticket expense reimbursements that were doled out by the ACC.
The conference gave FSU $144,895 for the Seminoles' 4,000 unsold tickets.
The league announced that 64,778 tickets were distributed for the championship game. It would seem far fewer fans actually attended the game, however, as Bank of America Stadium had several empty sections in it.
"Just philosophically, looking forward, a team — particularly in a championship game — shouldn’t be put in a position where they lose money, financially," Swofford said. "In the postseason, we may look at the championship game and put it right in sync with our other postseason games."
Swofford reiterated that from a financial standpoint, he believed the conference would do well once all the bowl partnerships are configured. The fact that the ACC will continue its agreement with the Orange Bowl well into the next decade also seems to bode well. The Orange Bowl will be part of the College Football Playoff rotation of semifinal and final games that will begin the 2015 season.
In terms of a restructured bowl payout system to his member schools, Swofford said the conference has already begun discussions along those lines. Currently, ACC schools share bowl revenue that is dispensed each June. That revenue is an equal split, and goes to schools that may not even send a program to a bowl.
For programs that have appeared in BCS bowl games in recent years like FSU, Clemson and Virginia Tech, the current model may seem unfair. Fans at each school have criticized the conference for the bowl payout format, saying their schools should earn more not only for making it to a bowl, but for reaching the conference title game and for appearing in a BCS bowl.
"We’ve got a subcommittee that’s looking at ... a postseason bowl structure and how that’s handled," Swofford said. "I would hope they would find something that is the right sweet spot, so to speak, for the institutions that are playing not only in the championship game, but in our bowls, as well."
Swofford hopes to see traction from the subcommittee by late this fall.
"We’ve got several meetings that are ahead of [the 2013 postseason] games and certainly as we look down the road with the future bowl cycle, the ticket arrangements and commitments with bowls will probably look a little different than they do with the current cycle," he said.
This was the first time in three tries that the ACC had a ticket issue at the championship game in Charlotte. In 2010 and 2011, the conference sold out the event.
FSU lost the 2010 game to Virginia Tech.
In a technical sense, FSU and Georgia Tech will not be at a loss of overall funds for the year because of the ticket issue. Per the previously referenced conference distribution and revenue sharing agreement, the schools will still receive a payout from the ACC.
Sometime around June 1, each member school is looking at about $17 million coming their way from the conference. In future years, that number is expected to swell beyond $20 million.
- NASCAR driver arrested for stealing another driver’s hauler
- David Beckham retiring. His career in pictures
- Magic to take closer look at Noel, McLemore, Burke at NBA Draft Combine
- Orlando Magic 1st-round draft picks through the years