Florida State wants dismissal of ACC lawsuit in North Carolina

FSU argues, in part, that its trustees never signed the grant of rights document at the center of this dispute.
Florida State and the ACC remain in a legal battle with dueling lawsuits.
Florida State and the ACC remain in a legal battle with dueling lawsuits. [ ERIK VERDUZCO | AP (2023) ]
Published Feb. 8|Updated Feb. 8

Florida State has asked a North Carolina court to dismiss the ACC’s lawsuit against the university — the latest legal step as the Seminoles explore a potential exit from their conference.

The ACC originally filed this case in December, a day before FSU’s board of trustees approved their lawsuit against the conference. That timeline is a key part of one of the legal arguments FSU made in a motion to dismiss filed Wednesday in Mecklenburg County Superior Court.

Florida State called the ACC’s preemptive suit “an admitted ‘race to the courthouse’ to secure what it hoped would prove to be a more favorable forum.” FSU contends that legal race came at a cost: the ACC’s members never took the required vote to approve the suit against the ’Noles. In the motion and corresponding brief, FSU also said the ACC sued Florida State “before an actual or justiciable controversy arose” — it was all theoretical until FSU’s trustees approved and filed their suit in Leon County Circuit Court.

Florida State’s most interesting argument focuses on the ACC’s grant of rights — the document at the center of this potential half-a-billion-dollar dispute. The ACC contends that Florida State (and every other member) “knowingly and voluntarily” granted the “irrevocable” TV rights to their home games to the conference. The conference then sold them to ESPN and passed the funds back to FSU and its peers.

FSU’s latest filing argues that the school’s trustees never signed or approved the grant of rights; it was only signed by the university president. That’s important because, according to FSU, its board is the only entity with the legal authority to “contract and be contracted with.”

If the ACC’s North Carolina case is not dismissed, Florida State’s filing said it should be paused until the Seminoles’ suit is resolved. FSU rejects the idea that the ACC should have “any advantage for purposely filing its narrow lawsuit just a few hours before the Florida action in order to gain a perceived tactical advantage.” The Seminoles’ filing also said Florida is the “more appropriate forum” because the case deals with sovereign immunity and state laws that should be resolved by a state court.

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