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Clemson University Football Sues ACC

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There is a new controversy in South Carolina’s favorite college football team. Clemson University’s football team is officially suing the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) over media rights. The problem came up after Clemson attempted to leave the ACC only to be hit with high penalties while leaving. 


The suit takes place as another university in Florida is also suing the ACC over media rights. Both schools claim that the leaving fees hinder their ability to talk with other conferences. The lawsuit and its decision will shape the future of college football in South Carolina. The suit will also send a message to all other teams with the ACC in college football.


Clemson University decided to leave the ACC but claimed that the conference made it difficult without losing much money. Erik Spanberg has been covering the story for “Charlotte Business Journal”. Spanberg wrote, “In the suit, Clemson claims that the ACC’s grant-of-rights contract through 2036 — a contract that essentially inhibits schools from leaving — and related penalties of $140 million to exit are based on “erroneous assumptions” that hinder Clemson’s “ability to meaningfully explore its options regarding conference membership” (Spanberg). Clemson University argues that the ACC is making it more difficult than necessary for university teams to leave the conference and explore other options. 


The suit also claims that the ACC’s leaving fines make it more difficult for college teams to leave the conference in favor of different opportunities. The main problem is that Clemson is finding it difficult to leave the conference and the fees are not helping. Clemson also wants to take back the rights to their games from the ACC.


 Clemson is leaving to make sure that the Clemson Tigers can perform at the top level. The university also claims that the fees make it even more difficult to leave and explore other conferences and competition options. The contract that was signed lasts through the year 2036. Clemson is not the only school looking to leave the ACC conference.

Florida State University has also sued the ACC over media rights. The official Florida State University News website explained the lawsuit. The article said, “Florida State University today filed suit against the Atlantic Coast Conference. This is in response to years of mismanagement that has left its member schools trapped in a deteriorating multimedia rights agreement while preventing them from joining other conferences because of “draconian” withdrawal penalties” (https://news.fsu.edu/acclawsuit/). Florida State University filed this lawsuit in December of 2023. The argument from F.S.U. is that the A.C.C. feels like a trap that is difficult to get away from. Both Clemson and Florida State find that the A.C.C. is purposefully making it financially difficult to walk away from the conference. 


Both university teams argue that the A.C.C. and their $140 million exit fee are not worth staying. Regardless, the A.C.C. has decided to countersue the suit filed by Florida State University. Michael McCann followed the story of Florida State vs. the Atlantic Coast Conference for sportico.com. McCann wrote, “The ACC explains that on Dec. 22, 2023, an unfiled copy of FSU’s then unfiled complaint appeared online and was circulated. 


The copy showed that FSU intended to sue but had not done so (the complaint was filed later in the day). According to the ACC, ESPN “notified” FSU that the school had “disclosed confidential information” (McCann). The claim has caught the attention of F.S.U. and the university does plan to respond to the claim. 


This story is still unfolding. There are multiple guesses as to why this is happening. Pete Thamel for ESPN has his suggestion. Thamel wrote, “ The interest level of the Big Ten and SEC in those schools is not known. The SEC's perceived interest in teams like FSU and Clemson has mostly been based on geographic defensive tactics, as its interest would match up to any interest the Big Ten shows” (Thamel). 


While Thamel doesn’t say that Clemson or F.S.U. plan on joining the SEC or the Big Ten, it is certainly implied. It would not be difficult to see that maybe Florida State University and Clemson University want to leave the A.C.C. conference for a more competitive conference. In conclusion, both Clemson and F.S.U.’s lawsuits against the A.C.C. show mismanagement in the media and a conference that might be too difficult to leave.


This article was edited by Aadrita Halder.

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