FSU Leaving ACC? Latest on the Florida State Rumors, Potential Big Ten Move, and More

    Could the Seminoles actually leave the ACC and what ramifications have come from their board meeting on Friday morning? The results could be historic.

    The Florida State Seminoles are in a strange place in college sports. They’re a perennial powerhouse. The belief is strong that college football is better when Florida State sees success on the field.

    But they just went 13-0, won the ACC, hold one of the country’s longest active winning streaks, and were left out of the College Football Playoff. Combining that with the fact that Florida State has publicly voiced its displeasure in the ACC as a whole, could FSU actually leave the ACC?

    FSU Leaving ACC? Complex Legal Battle Would Ensue

    To say it would be difficult for the Florida State Seminoles to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference may be the most massive understatement since college football realignment came to the forefront of our sport.

    The Seminoles would not only incur incredible costs but also become a historic move as no known legal challenge of a grant of rights has been documented. Currently, FSU and every ACC team for that matter, are under a grant of rights that keep them under the ACC’s control.

    MORE: FSU Signing Day 2024: Meet FSU’s New Recruits

    In this instance, the ACC’s grant of rights technically owns all of Florida State’s home games through the 2036 season.

    The Seminoles took the first step in any specific action toward leaving the conference by scheduling a board meeting for Friday morning. ESPN’s Pete Thamel indicates that this board meeting was likely to begin the process of challenging the ACC grant of rights.

    Challenging the grant of rights was always set to be an issue in and of itself.

    FSU Challenges ACC Grant of Rights

    Given the circumstances, Florida State University has officially challenged the ACC’s grant of rights in an unsurprising move. Stemming from their board meeting on Friday morning, FSU is set to file a claim against the ACC in court.

    “After exploring all options, we are left with only this option as a way to maximize our potential as an athletic department, and it’s best for Florida State University,” FSU President Richard McCullough said during the board meeting.

    This is the first step for FSU to challenge the ACC and force action. The ACC must now file a response, and the two parties must share information and documents.

    Florida State’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the lawsuit filing to challenge the ACC grant of rights.

    Why Would FSU Challenge the ACC’s Grant of Rights?

    Florida State ultimately decided to challenge the grant of rights, but the end goal is not clear just yet. It falls into two buckets: enact change from the conference or flat-out leave the ACC. The former is likely the easier route as it was previously stated it would cost FSU upwards of $120M in an exit fee for leaving the conference.

    That has since been updated even further, following the results of FSU’s investigation and claim, with numbers reaching as high as $572M.

    But as the NCAA and multiple other conferences have shown in the past, when they hold most of the cards, change itself is hard to come by.

    According to ESPN’s Thamel, Florida State had visited the ACC league offices a handful of times to dissect and analyze the language in the grant of rights. With the timing of their board meeting coming in December, the proverbial legal runway for their departure from the conference aligns.

    FSU (or any other league member) would have to inform the ACC of their decision to leave the conference by August 15. Given six months of a legal runway to make any decisions, their board meeting was set to vet and discuss what they found when exploring the grant of rights.

    A decision to leave the conference from Florida State is not expected to come soon. In fact, it likely won’t happen for some time.

    FSU doesn’t have an invite from any other major conference just yet and the powers-that-be in the Big Ten and SEC might have their reasons for trepidation at adding the Seminoles. The Big Ten just added Oregon and Washington under discount rates, and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has stated his satisfaction with staying at 16 teams with the additions of Texas and Oklahoma.

    The board meeting at Florida State was always set to be seen as a fact-finding exploration discussion due to the Sunshine Law that requires this kind of meeting in this instance. Their challenging of the grant of rights, however, may trigger the eventual end of the ACC and be a historic move within collegiate athletics.

    A lot has to happen for any of that to come to fruition, but the first step was this board meeting.

    Potential for FSU to Leave the ACC?

    Upon findings from the inquisition by FSU, there may be some good news for Florida State fans wanting a resolution that doesn’t mean shelling out over $500 million. In those, a lofty date was even thrown out.

    FSU estimated the cost to depart the ACC at more than $500 million but indicated they will challenge that. The reason for the challenge is simple: The ACC stated their grant of rights extends due to media partnerships with ESPN that run through the 2036 season.

    FSU and ACC’s ESPN deal doesn’t go through 2036 just yet, according to FSU’s law team and their findings. The deal included a nine-year option following the 2027 season, one neither party has signed. The nine-year option was reported to be decided upon by 2021.

    However, it appears that ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips signed an amendment to extend the deadline to February 2025. All this to say that the ACC media rights deal is contingent upon ESPN signing their unilateral right to exercise this deal by that date, otherwise there is no further deal between the parties.

    The FSU board meeting also indicated that they will claim a breach of contract, saying that the ACC did not create an appropriate value for media rights. They’ve also claimed a breach of fiduciary duty and mismanagement of future finances.

    “The system is broken,” former FSU QB and current trustee Drew Weatherford said. “I view this as doing our part to look out for ourselves but also take a step in the right direction to fix the system.”

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football’s transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

    Related Articles