Board Chair: FSU Has ‘No Choice’ but to Challenge ACC Grant of Rights, Consider Exit

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Board Chair: FSU Has ‘No Choice’ but to Challenge ACC Grant of Rights, Consider Exit

SOUTH BEND, IN - NOVEMBER 11: The ACC conference logo is pictured before a college basketball game between the Western Carolina Catamounts and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on November 11, 2023 at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Florida State University is headed to court in an attempt to exit the ACC.

Florida State trustees chair Peter Collins said the school has “no choice” but to challenge the ACC’s prohibitive “grant of rights” agreement.

“Today we’ve reached a crossroads in our relationship with the ACC,” Collins said Friday. “I believe this board has been left no choice but to challenge the legitimacy of the ACC Grant of Rights and its severe withdrawal penalties.”

Nicole Auerbach @NicoleAuerbach

The FSU Board of Trustees meeting has concluded. The lawsuit challenging the ACC grant of rights will be filed today.

Pete Thamel of ESPN reported Florida State estimates it would cost around $572 million to leave the ACC.

Pete Thamel @PeteThamel

FSU is claiming it will cost more than a half-billion to leave the ACC with cost of both exit fees and unwinding from grant of rights. Here’s the chart they are presenting with a $572 million estimate. pic.twitter.com/A7iTgU5KAq

As the Big Ten and SEC transform into superconferences, Florida State has been increasingly unhappy with its relationship with the ACC. The situation seemingly reached a head when an undefeated Seminoles football team was left out of the College Football Playoff—marking the first time an undefeated Power Five team has not made the playoffs.

The current ACC grant of rights runs through 2035-36. Colloquially, this gives the ACC the right to determine Florida State’s broadcasting rights and strengthens the conference by allowing negotiations to happen as a collective.

Florida State has pushed the ACC to distribute revenue based on each school’s media value to the conference. Thus far, the ACC has refused, leaving Florida State in a bind where the football program in particular will fall well behind on revenue over the next decade.

“This is not where I would prefer to have ended up,” Florida State president Richard McCullough said. “I would prefer a different pathway, but I feel in many ways we’ve exhausted all other options and you can’t wish and hope that somehow they’ll get fixed.”

It’s unlikely any resolution in this situation will happen quickly. This is the first time a university has challenged a grant of rights, which means this battle could be played out for an extended period in the court system if the two sides do not reach an accord.

Florida State would likely be welcomed into the Big Ten or SEC if the school is able to extract itself from the grant of rights or lessen the exit fee to a more palatable number. However, no conference will approach Florida State on a formal level until the situation is resolved.

Florida State has been a member of the ACC since 1992. The university previously operated as an independent from 1951-1991.

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