There is some good news from the Pac-12. John Canzano reported a verbal agreement is in place about a Grant of Rights among Pac-12 schools. For the uninitiated, that magical legal term essentially means that all members in a conference grant the rights to the conference office for the duration of the pact. A team could still leave the league after the agreement is signed, but the conference would still control their rights and a penalty would be ridiculous (the ACC’s penalty, for instance, has been estimated by industry sources up to $500 million).
Using the ACC’s agreement as an example, it should be made clear that these agreements go beyond broadcast rights:
[W]hat is even thornier from a legal perspective is the second clause in the ACC’s agreement, where schools surrender their copyrights to the conference as well. If Clemson were to leave tomorrow, and play in a (hypothetical) SEC game tomorrow, then there’s an argument that it would be committing copyright infringement. Copyright law is complex, but it also has deep precedent, which means finding a loophole there may be yet another thing that is legally tricky. And even if all of that is squared away, there’s the matter of whether the league Clemson would wish to go to is actually ready and willing to add.
It’s not nothing, given that the fact that a Grant of Rights has been verbally agreed to is a tacit signal that the schools remain on the same page. But none of this will matter unless it becomes officially agreed to, which won’t happen until the Pac-12 finalizes a media rights deal that the college sports ecosystem has been anticipating for six months. Even possible realignment target San Diego State’s athletic director JD Wicker told SI two weeks ago “we’re waiting for the Pac-12 to finish their TV deal” before next steps can be figured out about the future of the program.