Conference realignment rumors and speculation continue with uncertainty in the ACC. A new policy change in North Carolina affects how at least two members of the ACC will handle their future membership.

On Thursday, the UNC System Board of Governors announced a change in policy in which state universities must now seek approval from the system president before switching conferences. A school’s chancellor must provide advance notice and a financial plan relating to any conference move.

The UNC System Board of Governors is looking to avoid what happened in other states. California state leaders, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, were memorably caught off guard by UCLA’s move to the Big Ten.

For conference realignment, Thursday’s news out of North Carolina directly impacts the state’s two public universities in the ACC: North Carolina (UNC-Chapel Hill) and NC State.

UNC and NC State were on opposite sides of the ACC expansion vote to add Stanford, Cal and SMU, but the in-state rivals could still be a package deal. In some states, education and political leaders have sought to keep state schools together in the same conference. The SEC and Big Ten have recently added programs in pairs of rivals (Oklahoma & Texas, USC & UCLA, Oregon & Washington).

If one school makes a realignment move, there are always questions of which other schools might be attached. Duke and Wake Forest are also North Carolina-based members of the ACC, but are private and not subject to the UNC System Board.

Andrew Carter of The News & Observer assesses that the UNC System’s move will make it “more complicated, and perhaps more difficult” for a North Carolina-based university to change conferences.

While Florida State and Clemson are considered the most desired teams out of the ACC, UNC still figures to be a big prize in the next round of realignment and expansion that feels inevitable. There has long been fan and media speculation about the SEC wanting to expand into North Carolina, a natural fit with the conference footprint. It’s worth noting that the SEC Network’s studios are located in Charlotte.