Florida State Sues ACC Over 'Draconian' Withdrawal Fees, Fiduciary Irresponsibility

Florida State Sues ACC Over 'Draconian' Withdrawal Fees, Fiduciary Irresponsibility

Jackson Bakich
Jackson Bakich
December 26, 2023

Over the weekend, Florida State University officially sued the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in an attempt to leave the conference after joining it in 1991. The lawsuit’s main purpose is to challenge the grant of (media) rights and the $130 million exit fee.

One of the main points for FSU is their argument that the ACC has failed to withhold its fiduciary responsibilities among other complaints.

The suit – brought forth in Leon County Circuit Court – will be presided over by an FSU alumnus, Judge John C. Cooper.

Florida State University’s Board of Trustees (BOT) and its Chairman Peter Collins called the ACC’s withdrawal penalties “draconian” should they attempt to leave and join another conference.

“The underperformance by the ACC has ramped up dramatically in just the last few years,” said Collins. “The ACC has also unfairly — and we believe illegally — sought to prevent members from exploring their fundamental right to withdraw by threatening to impose an astounding and pernicious half-billion-dollar penalty. It’s simply unconscionable.”

FSU President Richard McCullough added that he “fully supports” the BOT’s decision.

“I fully support the Board’s decision to take this legal action against the ACC. It is becoming painfully apparent that Florida State’s athletic ambitions and institutional priorities are no longer served by the ACC’s leadership,” said President McCullough.

As other schools were able to move conferences relatively quickly like Texas, Oklahoma (to the SEC), UCLA, and USC (to the BigTen), Florida State has been on the wayside in terms of being able to climb the economic ladder and place themselves in a position to generate more revenue.

They blame the ACC for this, as the university’s press release mentioned that FSU’s inability to play in the College Football Playoff (CFP) was pretty much the last piece of evidence they needed to know that the conference was hurting, not helping.

“The lawsuit says the College Football Playoff’s ‘stunning decision’ to exclude the undefeated Seminoles from the 2024 championship ‘crystalizes’ years of ACC failures that threaten the conference’s fiscal viability. Trustees said at a Board meeting today, however, that they’ve been considering taking legal action for more than a year because of the ACC’s overall mismanagement,” the press release says.

It continued by providing a passage from the lawsuit, saying, “The ACC has negotiated itself into a self-described ‘existential crisis,’ rendered itself fiscally unstable and substantially undermined its members’ capacity to compete at the elite level,” and that “In doing so, the ACC violated the contractual, fiduciary and legal duties it owed its members.”

This is a developing story.

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Jackson Bakich

Jackson Bakich

Born in Orlando but raised in Lake County, Florida, Jackson Bakich is currently a senior at Florida State University. Growing up in the sunshine state, Bakich co-hosted the political talk radio show "Lake County Roundtable" (WLBE) and was a frequent guest for "Lake County Sports Show" (WQBQ). Currently, he is the Sports Editor of the FSView and the co-host of "Tomahawk Talk" (WVFS), a sports talk radio program covering Florida State athletics in Tallahassee.

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