The ACC vs. Florida State and Clemson: The courtroom clash on which realignment’s future hangs

May 2, 2024 – Media Mention
The Athletic

Irwin Kishner, co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law Group, was quoted in an article in The Athletic that discusses how the next stage of college conference realignment may be decided in a courtroom. The article addresses legal challenges brought by Florida State and Clemson against the ACC "in hopes of getting out of the grant of rights agreement that binds the schools to the league through their television rights into 2036." The ACC has filed its own legal challenges against both schools.

According to the article, Florida State and Clemson's lawsuits differ. Florida State is asking a Florida court to determine whether the ACC's grant of rights and exit fee are legally enforceable. Clemson’s case focuses on the notion that the grant of rights should not be enforceable after a school leaves the conference. It also argues that the league’s $140 million exit fee is not representative of actual damages.

“To say you want to get out of a contract, if you had foresight like that, everybody would be a winner in the stock market, but it doesn’t work like that in commerce and business,” said Irwin.

The article further highlights the uncertainty that exists if the cases continue to move forward in multiple jurisdictions. There is also a possibility of settlement in which the parties agree to a dollar fee that would allow the schools to leave the conference and take their tv rights with them. However, the article notes that if the ACC lets one member leave with their TV rights, it opens the door for others to leave a price that has already been determined.

The article further asks, "if FSU and Clemson want to leave, why pay hundreds of millions of dollars to depart when you might be able to get out for less?"

“My grandmother used to say, what you don’t ask for, you don’t get,” Irwin said. “It’s worth a try. You hire creative lawyers and you try to do it.”

Read the full article in The Athletic here. Access may require a subscription.