What’s next in Florida State, Clemson suits against the ACC?

  • Andrea Adelson, ESPN Elder WriterMay 13, 2024, 07:00 AM ET


    • ACC press reporter.
    • Signed up with ESPN.com in 2010.
    • Graduate of the University of Florida.AMELIA ISLAND, Fla.–

When the annual ACC spring meetings start Monday, there will be no chance to avoid what has actually ended up being the story overshadowing the conference: Its long-term future.The ACC, Clemson and Florida State are embroiled in claims over the grant of rights agreement that seemingly keeps ACC schools in a TV contract through 2036– an agreement those two schools argue is no longer economically competitive which has their fans, according to a FOIA request made by ESPN, demanding they leave the league.Clemson and Florida State will be at the meetings, taking part in the league program. That agenda is anticipated to include conversations about the expanded College Football Playoff and resulting revenue distribution, a pending $2.7 billion settlement in antitrust cases involving the NCAA and methods to improve revenue streams for the ACC.The program is not expected to include discussions about the claims. After all, Clemson and Florida State remain ACC members and consistently

have been on league calls and Zooms since their claims were filed. They have all tried to run as if it is organization as typical, however nothing has actually been normal over the previous 18 months.Editor’s Picks 2 Related During spring conferences last year it was revealed 7 schools– including Clemson and Florida State– had actually studied the grant of rights to determine a course forward and talked about possible exit strategies. That put the league on notification. Seven months later on, the ACC and Florida State took legal action against each other. This past March, Clemson and the ACC went to court.Ahead of this year’s meetings, let’s look at how we got here and what comes next.The claims ESPN submitted a public records request to Florida State seeking emails and texts between Dec. 3 and Dec. 22 to determine how and when school authorities chose

to move on with legal action. What returned were e-mails from upset fans, pleading Florida

State athletic director Michael Alford and university president Richard McCullough to do something.The first e-mails began being available in Dec. 3, the exact same day the Seminoles ended up being the very first unbeaten Power 5 school overlooked of the four-team College Football Playoff that began in 2014. For months, Florida State had expressed its frustration with the ACC over an approaching income gap with the SEC and Big 10, a gap Alford

approximated would reach$30 million annually.The previous August, the Florida State board of trustees fulfilled to discuss its long-term future. Trustee Justin Roth asked for an exit plan to leave the ACC by August 2024. Florida State legal representatives then began creating a legal strategy to challenge the grant of rights, which transfers ownership of media rights from the school to the ACC and goes through 2036. The playoff snub seemed to crystallize what had to be done. Less than an hour after the playoff announcement, a Florida State fan composed in an e-mail to Alford,”We need to get out of the ACC or we are formally dead as a college football program … The time is now. We should do whatever it takes to go out. We plead of you to end this charade.”Another email can be found in at roughly the very same time, subject line “LEAVE THE ACC NOW “:”We get no regard in this conference We get no money in this conference WHY ARE WE STILL HERE?” On Dec. 4, one Seminole booster, whose name was redacted, composed to Alford in action to a circulation list e-mail in which he asked fans to reroute their “enthusiasm and assistance”and participate in the Orange Bowl versus Georgia.”Really? Just carry on like nothing simply happened. Simply invest thousands more dollars after getting slapped in the face … by an unskilled

, low football IQ committee? No thanks. …

We stuck with FSU through the 2015-2020 ordeal

just to have our players, coaches, Boosters, Administration and fans embarrassed in front of the entire nation. You and the FSU President need to stand more openly and discover a way to start moving us out of the ACC.

Possibly ask fans to divert Stadium renovation dollars to conference adjustment expenses as a little help. I understand the cost of moving is significant but the long term expense of not moving ASAP, might be more, and even permanent.”Through the FOIA request, the only e-mail that came back in between Alford, McCullough and board of trustees chair Peter Collins relating to the school’s future strategies was dated Dec. 21. Earlier that day, Florida State had actually revealed it would hold an unique board conference Dec. 22 to talk about legal matters connected to the athletic department.In 2 emails Dec. 21, Alford sent Collins a list of questions he might be asked at the board meeting. Alford wrote: How positive ought to we be about this when there has been no known legal challenge to a grant of rights.Why should we be confident in the proper outcome?Have we TRULY exhausted EVERY possible opportunity for discussion of a tenable option short of legal action?On Dec. 22, the Florida State board voted to sue the ACC in Leon County, Florida, seeking to void the grant of rights and withdrawal cost as”unreasonable restraints of sell the state of Florida and not enforceable in their entirety against Florida State.” In his remarks to the board, Collins and

McCullough told the board they felt they had, undoubtedly, tired every possible choice and had no choice but to submit a lawsuit.”These

things are prompt and you can’t want and hope that somehow they’ll get

repaired in the next year two, 3, 4, 5. By that time, I don’t believe that we’ll be competitive, “McCullough said.The exact same day, it

became openly known the ACC chose to submit a lawsuit in North Carolina first to safeguard the grant of rights and league members on Dec. 21. At the time, there was widespread speculation that Clemson would be next to submit. Both schools had actually been described as remaining in

“lockstep”with each other, sharing comparable concerns about their long-lasting futures in a conference that might not maintain financially. The key difference between the 2, as one individual close to the circumstance explained it, was the playoff snub.Clemson ultimately filed its suit three months later in March, in South Carolina. As a result, the ACC sued Clemson in North Carolina, and argued in its fit that Clemson showed a “desire to work with the conference “concerning its own subscription and “requested confidentiality and defenses that the ACC would not submit a suit versus it. “Ever since, Clemson has filed an amended problem seeking damages, as the school implicated the league of”slander of title,”arguing the ACC had the ability to enhance its position through the grant of rights, while lessening Clemson’s. 2 other schools, Miami and North Carolina, had been proactively looking at the grant of rights with the exact same seriousness as Clemson and Florida State at this time in 2015. But at this point, Miami has no strategies to pursue the exact same legal method. Athletic director Dan Radakovich told a local radio station a number of months back,” Here at the University of Miami we are extremely strong with the ACC.”North Carolina remains in a harder circumstance. UNC board chair John Preyer has actually expressed a desire to weigh all options, however no action has actually been taken. It should be noted UNC has an interim chancellor, Lee H. Roberts, that makes it more tough to do something about it. Further making complex matters, the UNC system board of governors in February passed a policy that needs its public schools to gain approval to move conferences from the board and the UNC system president.Where do all the lawsuits stand?There are 5 overall lawsuits ongoing: the ACC vs. Clemson; the ACC vs. Florida State; Clemson vs. the ACC; Florida State vs. the ACC, plus a suit Florida Attorney general of the United States Ashley Moody filed versus the ACC in April, seeking to make public the ESPN-ACC tv agreement as part of Florida State’s case.The judge in Clemson’s case in South Carolina ruled this month that the ACC must provide an unredacted copy of the ESPN agreement to Clemson, though it will remain confidential and can be utilized just as part of the case.In North Carolina, the next court hearing in the ACC’s case against Clemson is arranged for July 2. Clemson just recently filed a movement to dismiss the case. In the ACC’s case versus Florida State, Judge Louis Bledsoe rejected its movement to dismiss. Florida State has said it will appeal the choice to the state Supreme Court, and no court date has actually been set.In South Carolina, the ACC submitted a movement to dismiss the case on May 7. In Florida, Cooper referred the ACC and Florida State to mediation. The 2 sides have been not able to settle on an arbitrator, so Cooper granted an extension up until May 31 to choose one.The bottom line is all celebrations expected a protracted legal fight to play itself out, and there is no reward– a minimum of at the moment– to negotiate a settlement or resolution.So what about this year’s meetings?At in 2015’s spring conferences there were fireworks on the first day after it was revealed publicly that seven schools had conducted conversations about the future of the conference. Those not associated with the conversations felt blindsided. So did ACC commissioner Jim Phillips. One advertisement described the tenor as an”airing of complaints.”Once they clarified, they had the ability to pertain to a contract on” success efforts “to reward on-field and on-court success– pressed forward

mainly by Alford, as a way to acknowledge Florida State’s concerns over the widening income space. Phillips provided a merged front when the conferences covered, saying he thought, “We’re all in this together.”Now, a year later on, Clemson,

Florida State and the ACC remain in a fight for their own long-term futures. Nobody understands how their legal battles will play out, however they still have to find a way to collaborate.

Phillips has promised to continue to completely support Clemson and Florida State athletes for as long as they stay conference members.With the upcoming antitrust case settlements and a potential structure for a brand-new college model that would share income with student-athletes, it’s more imperative than ever to discover more revenue streams for the ACC. This is especially real following the current news that payouts from the newly expanded CFP will not be distributed evenly, leaving the ACC behind the SEC and Big Ten once again– further showing that a”Power 2″exists.Adding to the dynamic will be the existence of new members Stanford, Cal and SMU– 3 schools added last fall to help shore up the ACC long term. The league will continue to move on talking about league business and will celebrate the success stories and team champions won this athletic season throughout a reception Tuesday night– all while unpredictability awaits the background.

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