Thursday, April 18, 2024

ACC files motion to dismiss Florida State’s grant of rights lawsuit against the league

Getty Images

The ACC has filed a motion in Florida to dismiss or stay Florida State’s lawsuit against the conference, according to multiple outlets. This comes a week after Florida State filed its own motion to dismiss a lawsuit, accusing the school of breaching its contract with the conference, brought forth by the ACC.

Florida State’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously in December to file a lawsuit against the ACC challenging the league’s grant of rights and withdrawal penalties, which marked a critical first step towards exiting the conference. The suit, which was filed in Tallahassee Circuit Court, alleged that the ACC breached contract for failing to create appropriate media rights value and violated the state of Florida’s antitrust laws. It also made the assertion that the penalty for withdrawal, which stands at $572 million, is unenforceable. 

The ACC immediately defended its grant of rights upon Florida State’s filing. 

“Florida State’s decision to file against the conference is in direct conflict with their longstanding obligations and is a clear violation of their legal commitments to the other members of the conference,” ACC commissioner Jim Phillips and ACC board chair Jim Ryan said in a statement. “All ACC members, including Florida State, willingly and knowingly re-signed the current Grant of Rights in 2016, which is wholly enforceable and binding through 2036. Each university has benefited from this agreement, receiving millions of dollars and neither Florida State, nor any other institution, has ever challenged its legitimacy.” 

The ACC’s grant of rights is meant to keep schools tethered to the conference through 2036. Its media rights agreement with ESPN runs through 2027 with a unilateral right to exercise a nine-year option through 2036. Florida State’s suit alleges that the ESPN gave the ACC an “ultimatum” during negotiations in 2016 that no further talks would occur until after the current agreement expires. 

Florida State’s expressed desire to explore options outside the ACC predates its unprecedented exclusion from the 2023 College Football Playoff. In August 2023, the Seminoles contemplated turning to a private equity firm to raise funds for the grant of rights’ mammoth buyout fee. Florida State even went so far as to contact JPMorgan Chase and Sixth Street, though no apparent deal came to fruition. 

Related articles

Share article

Latest articles


Subscribe to stay updated.