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FSU Board of Trustees unanimously votes to challenge ACC Grant of Rights

Matt Connollyby:Matt Connolly12/22/23


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Florida State is taking the first step towards leaving the ACC. The FSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Friday to challenge the ACC Grant of Rights.

“I believe this board has been left with no choice but to challenge the legitimacy of the ACC Grant of Rights and its severe withdraw penalties,” FSO BOT chair Peter Collins said said ahead of the vote.

“I believe that we have exhausted all possible remedies within the conference, and we must do what we believe is best for Florida State — not only in the short-term, but in the long-term.”

Later during the meeting, the Florida State BOT presented an estimation of what it will cost to leave the ACC, as things stand. It estimates that the ACC Grant of Rights fee, plus a severe ACC withdrawal fee, will make the total cost to leave the conference at approximately $572,000,000.

If FSU wins in court, its legal counsel believes that it will owe nothing to exit the league.

Peter Collins said that this decision was not due to Florida State missing out on the College Football Playoff and acting swiftly to take action. Instead, this is something that has been discussed for some time as FSU tries to position itself for the future.

A main part of the argument for Florida State is that the ACC and its schools are locked in with ESPN and cannot negotiate a new deal. However, ESPN has a nine-year option for the ACC for 2027-2036.

“We have actually no guaranteed payments during that period,” a member of the Florida State legal team said. “But the option is not to increase the payments to the ACC. But leaves in place that 2012 negotiated number through 2036 — 24 years. We simply don’t think the ultimatum that was represented to the ACC members makes any sense.”

Ultimately, Florida State and its legal counsel is arguing that the ACC agreed to deals and made moves without consulting Florida State and its other members. Because of that, it believes FSU should be able to get out of the Grant of Rights.

“We are alleging that the penalty package — both the Grant of Rights individually and in conjunction with the severe withdrawal penalty — is a violation of Florida statutes,” the FSU lawyer said.

“This is an unenforceable penalty — both the Grant of Rights individually and the severe withdrawal penalty.”

It remains to be seen if other ACC schools, including Clemson, will follow. Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina voted earlier this year against adding Cal, Stanford and SMU to the league. However, the rest of the ACC voted to bring in the schools, leading to the addition taking place by one vote.