It’s official: the Florida State Seminoles have lawyered up, and they are attempting to leave the ACC via breaking the Grant of Rights agreement. Yesterday afternoon the Seminoles’ Board of Trustees met and the end result was a lawsuit against the ACC in which claims that the Grant of Rights is “unenforceable.”
Collins: "I believe this board has been left no choice but to challenge the ACC's grant of rights and its severe withdraw penalties. ... I believe we've exhausted all possible remedies within the conference and we have to do what's best in the short and longterm."— ️♈️ (@ADavidHaleJoint) December 22, 2023
The TL:DR of how Florida State feels about its place in the ACC is as follows: they allegedly are happy with everything except the “math” problem, this has nothing to do with the College Football Playoffs, yet it does actually have something to do with the College Football Playoffs. Confused? I don’t blame you, but that’s literally a sequence of events that occurred.
McCullough: "It's time for us to try to do something about it. This is not a reaction [to CFP] but something we've done a lot of due diligence on." Says FSU is bound by an onerous penalty created "superfluously by the ACC" (though, again, it should be noted was SIGNED by FSU.— ️♈️ (@ADavidHaleJoint) December 22, 2023
A few takeaways, quickly:— ️♈️ (@ADavidHaleJoint) December 22, 2023
- The bulk of FSU's criticism was aimed squarely at Swofford-era decision makers, NOT Jim Phillips.
- Reps repeatedly said this wasn't about the CFP, then brought up the CFP repeatedly, too.
Of note on this, the very first sentence in the FSU lawsuit: T"he stunning exclusion of the ACC’s undefeated football champion from the 2023-2024 College Football Playoff (“CFP”) in deference to two one-loss teams from two competing Power Four conferences crystalized the years of… https://t.co/ozoeW1RJ3E— ️♈️ (@ADavidHaleJoint) December 22, 2023
Now here’s where things get fun: the ACC not only responded to Florida State, but they actually were proactive and filed a lawsuit against FSU’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday. Their argument is essentially that the Noles signed a document saying that they would not “take any action, or permit any action to be taken by others subject to its control…that would effect the validity and enforcement of the Grant of Rights.” In simple terms, Florida State pinky swore that they wouldn’t try to bail on the GoR that they signed, and now they will pay for it in court. Oh, and the kicker? The trial has to take place in the state of North Carolina.
NEW: Turns out the ACC filed a lawsuit against the FSU board of trustees yesterday.— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) December 22, 2023
Complaint claims FSU is not allowed to challenge the grant of rights and that it should be determined in North Carolina.
Believe @AlisonPosey14 first reported. pic.twitter.com/LdrIqBeh04
The battle between Florida State and the ACC is bound to be a long and ugly one, but if we’re to take both parties at face value, it seems like the ACC made sure the Grant of Rights was so airtight that nobody could try and bail out of the conference. Does that mean Florida State is guaranteed to lose in court? I am not a lawyer, so I am not qualified to answer that question. From what I can tell, however, there is a lot of very specific verbiage used in a contract that Florida State read, inevitably had their lawyers read, decided that they were good with everything it contained, and signed it. There is a scenario where the ACC may be willing to settle and let FSU leave, but that really depends on how serious they are about keeping all of their member programs for the life of the ESPN deal.
The most important question with all of this going on when it comes to Carolina fans is whether or not UNC will follow suit if FSU is successful in finding a way out of the Grant of Rights. Here’s the thing: there’s a chance that anything could happen, but a few things. One: Bubba Cunningham has both expressed interest in shopping around and also has declared some level of commitment to the ACC within the last 12-15 months, so basically no definitive hand is being shown. Two: something that applies to FSU as well is that the Big Ten and the SEC haven’t actually expressed interest in expanding their conferences anymore than they have already with the Pac-12 team additions + Texas and Oklahoma for the SEC. Sure, UNC is a desirable program, but would one of those two conferences actually make room for them literally and financially? Finally, say that one of those conferences makes room for them: would the benefit exceed the cost? That is the question that nobody has an answer to right now, because right now FSU is trying to figure out a way around the very, very high price tag of $572 million. Woof.
One last detail in this saga: it’s worth pointing out that the ESPN deal technically ends earlier than 2035-36, but ESPN also has unilateral control over whether or not the contract gets extended, which is a decision they will make in the spring of 2025.
Two other key points that came up:— ️♈️ (@ADavidHaleJoint) December 22, 2023
Technically, due to additions of the 3 new teams, ACC does not stand to lose TV revenue by FSU's departure.
BUT, ESPN holds a unilateral option to end or extend its agreement with the ACC in spring 2025.
Truly this situation could very well re-define the college athletics landscape, because if this alleged air-tight contract does have a leak somewhere, or the ACC decides to just say forget it and settle in court, it could set a precedent for other member institutions to essentially do as they please. We’ve heard rumors swirling around about a few schools thinking about leaving, and I feel like any decision short of the conference digging their boots into the ground and putting FSU in their place will lead to a lot of problems for Jim Phillips. Have a seat, grab some popcorn, and maybe even grab a blanket. This is about to be some quality entertainment, and thankfully it isn’t at Carolina’s expense.
What do you think of FSU’s attempt to exit the ACC? Let us know in the comments below.