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Partnership Gone Wrong? Florida State Board Approves Lawsuit Against ACC

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Florida State University (FSU) has had a tumultuous year on the football field. The team went undefeated. Yet, after an injury to their star Quarterback Jordan Travis, they were left out of the four-team college football playoff. Now, FSU finds itself in a major dispute with its conference.

On December 22nd, 2023, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that the FSU Board of Trustees voted to approve a lawsuit against the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Within this blog post, our West Palm Beach partnership dispute lawyer discusses the case in more detail.

Understanding the Stakes: FSU Wants Out of Its Contract With the ACC

 Over the last few years, college football has fundamentally realigned. Many major programs are changing conferences—with top teams abandoning long-standing regional conference relationships to join the ever-growing SEC and Big 10. There are big financial motives for these top programs to change conferences. However, Florida State University (FSU) has remained in the ACC. The college football program for several more years is required to do so under the terms of its contract. Florida State wants out of its contract—but it would have to pay a massive break-up fee in order to do so. The Board of Trustees for FSU is now suing to get the team a contract with the ACC.

 The Claim: FSU Claims that the ACC has Breached its Duties and Violated the Contract 

Florida State University recently had an important meeting to talk about its future in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The university has been unhappy with the ACC for a while. They sued the ACC in Leon County because they believe that the conference is not handling its TV and media agreements properly and that the conference is overcharging schools. FSU is effectively arguing that the ACC is in breach of the existing contract and that the agreement should be set aside as a remedy. Notably, there is a ton at stake in this case. To leave the conference right now, FSU would have to pay the ACC more than $570 million dollars.

The Response: ACC Contends No Wrongdoing, Will Seek to Enforce Contract 

The ACC counters that no breach of contract has occurred on its part. The conference claims that Florida State’s lawsuit breaks their legal agreement. Notably, the agreement signed in 2016 currently runs until 2036. The ACC argues that the agreement has financially benefited every university, including FSU. If the FSU moves forward with the lawsuit, the ACC is seeking the full grant of rights remedy—which would be a $572 million financial penalty for the Tallahassee-based school.

Contact Our South Florida Commercial Litigation Attorney Today

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, we are a commercial litigation law firm that is devoted to protecting the rights and interests of our clients. If you have any specific questions or concerns about a partnership dispute, we are here to help. Contact our legal team today to arrange your confidential case evaluation. From our West Palm Beach office, we represent clients all over South Florida.



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