Clemson files lawsuit against ACC over ‘excessive’ exit fees

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In a significant move that could continue to change the rapidly changing landscape of college sports, Clemson filed a lawsuit against the ACC on Tuesday that signals its exit from the league.

In a petition filed in the Court of Common Pleas in Pickens County, South Carolina, Clemson has questioned both the ACC’s rights and the exit fee, calling the exit penalty “unconscionable” and “unenforceable.”

It also calls the ACC’s idea that giving media rights to the league would allow the league to own Clemson’s media rights after it leaves the league a “meaningless read,” “incorrect” and “a clear violation of that agreement.” “Inconsistent with the language”.

Clemson asked in the lawsuit to declare that “the ACC will no longer have the rights to Clemson’s games after Clemson ceases to be a member of the ACC.” Clemson also wants the ACC exit fee – three times the ACC operating budget, an estimated $130 million – ruled as “an unenforceable penalty in violation of public policy.” (The Florida state lawsuit put the total cost of opting out, including rights and fees, at $572 million.)

The lawsuit is the second filed against the ACC in recent months, as the state of Florida filed one in late December. The Clemson suit is significant because it indicates that the league’s two clear football powers – and the only College Football Playoff participants who play annually – both want to leave the league.

The ACC has filed an advance against Florida State in Mecklenburg County, and the two sides are bargaining over the venue.

The lawsuit comes on the same day the College Football Playoff is expected to announce a deal with ESPN that will further widen the financial gap between the Big Ten and SEC and the rest of college sports. Under the new CFP agreement starting in 2026, each Big Ten and SEC team is expected to earn more than $21 million annually. ACC teams are expected to earn more than $13 million.

Clemson explains that the current ACC television contract, which lags far behind the upcoming SEC and Big Ten deal, poses as a barrier to Clemson’s ability to compete at the highest level. Clemson has appeared in six College Football Playoff appearances and won national titles in 2016 and 2018.

The lawsuit claims, “The ACC’s actions interfere with Clemson’s independent exercise of its rights and are fatally harmful to Clemson’s efforts to ensure that its athletic programs can continue to compete at the highest level, “Joe is critically important to Clemson even beyond athletics. ,

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