Home Sports ACC wants FSU’s suit filed in Florida put on hold

ACC wants FSU’s suit filed in Florida put on hold

ACC wants FSU’s suit filed in Florida put on hold


The Atlantic Coast Conference asked a Florida judge on Friday to press pause on a lawsuit Florida State filed, which claims the conference is breaching its contract, until a similar case concludes in North Carolina.

The ACC and Florida State sued each other in late December to resolve a dispute over what the university would have to pay if it opts to leave the conference. Lawyers for the Seminoles estimate the school would have to pay $527 million to withdraw from the league and regain control over its media rights, severing a contract that isn’t scheduled to expire until 2036. They argued that those fees are “draconian” and “unreasonable restraints of trade in the State of Florida.”

The two sides are battling to determine which state court should get to rule on their dispute. The ACC wants the case to play out in North Carolina, where its headquarters are located. Florida State wants the case to be heard on its home turf by a circuit court judge in Tallahassee.

The ACC’s filing on Friday argues that its grant of rights contract is governed by North Carolina law and that their North Carolina-based lawsuit should take precedence because it was filed first — one day before Florida State submitted its claim to the Florida court.

“[T]he parties substantively engaged first on the field in North Carolina. …And that is as it should be,” the ACC’s lawyers wrote in their motion Friday. “Florida State chose to join the ACC, a North Carolina unincorporated nonprofit association, and entered and specifically voted in favor of the contracts it now challenges, all of which are governed by North Carolina law.”

If the judge does not grant a stay in the Florida case, the ACC also submitted a motion to dismiss the case for a variety of reasons. The conference says Florida State hasn’t specified what contract the ACC is allegedly breaching. It also argued Florida State can’t ask a judge to make a ruling before the school takes some action to leave the conference.

Florida State’s lawyers asked for a similar stay or dismissal from the North Carolina judge a week ago. The North Carolina court is scheduled to host a hearing on the dismissal request on March 22.

If neither judge grants a stay, both lawsuits could continue down parallel tracks. That scenario could create a race to judgment in which the first court to reach a ruling would effectively end the other case.

The ACC’s long-term television contract is significantly less lucrative than more recent deals signed by competitors in the Big Ten and SEC conferences, which leaves many of its more high-profile athletic departments with concerns about competing on a national level.

Florida State, which has belonged to the the ACC since 1991, has been exploring legal options to leave the conference since at least this past summer. The Seminoles were also among a group of ACC schools that explored options to break away from the league earlier in 2023. They decided to take legal action in December, shortly after the school’s undefeated football team was left out of this season’s four-team College Football Playoff.


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