Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
By now, the latest episode of Going For Two, the official Extra Points Podcast, has dropped, which you can access on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts.
Last week, Bryan and I talked to my old friend, Richard Johnson of Moon Crew/SEC Network/The Internet, about the State of the SEC. Today, we talk with our old friend, Lauren Brownlow, about the State of the ACC. Lauren, a long-time chronicler of all things #goacc, can be heard on 999TheFan in the Triangle, read on WRALSportsFan.com.
In this discussion, the three of us hit topics like
- What does it actually MEAN to be a "football conference", and what kinds of specific changes is the ACC doing, or need to do, in order to complete that transition?
- What is the early read on new ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips?
- This is a conference in transition, as some of the biggest institutional figures (commissioner, AD and coaches) have either recently left, or are likely to leave in the near future. Who are the major voices stepping to fill those vacancies, and where will they take the conference next?
- Okay what's the deal with Notre Dame?
- Is there any way for the ACC to substantially improve their TV situation without adding Notre Dame? Does that even matter?
- Lots more talk about this year's Kansas-Duke football game, which is such a SICKOS game that even a degenerate like me will probably skip it.
Going For Two publishes every Wednesday, and is absolutely free. We'll continue our State of the Conferences series next with the Big Ten, but don't worry, we'll give airtime to non-Power conferences as well. This is an Extra Points production, after all.
If you enjoy the Going For Two podcasts, please tell your friends, and maybe even give a positive review on your favorite podcasting app. That helps us grow audience, and potentially produce even more audio content.
Amid the non-stop deluge of college sports news over the last 48 hours, this story from the FCS ranks caught my eye.
You might recall back in January, which feels like a decade ago, Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State announced they would leave the Ohio Valley Conference to join the ASUN. The move was a coup for the ASUN's plans to start sponsoring FCS football, and a significant blow towards the OVC.
It would appear that the breakup process was not completely amicable. On Tuesday, the OVC announced that they are suing both Eastern Kentucky and Jacksonville State. From the release, forwarded to me by the OVC office:
The Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) today filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court in Kentucky against Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and in Circuit Court of
Calhoun County, Alabama, against Jacksonville State University (JSU) to enforce the payment of the schools’ contractually required exit fees for departing the conference.
EKU informed the OVC on January 26, 2021, and JSU on February 16, 2021, of their intent to depart the conference, effective June 30, 2021. According to the conference’s constitution, which is a contract, the departure of any school from the OVC requires the payment of an exit fee. The payment of exit fees was approved by all OVC members, including EKU and JSU. EKU and JSU have now refused to pay the fees.
According to the OVC, each school owes the league $1 million dollars.
Jacksonville State did not respond to my requests for comment. Eastern Kentucky sent me the following statement:
“We are aware of a lawsuit filed by the Ohio Valley Conference regarding EKU’s exit from the conference. We do not agree with the assertions of the conference regarding our exit. We will articulate the merits of our position in the proper arena.”
Litigating over exit fees isn't new. Maryland and the ACC battled in court over various fees before the Terrapins left for the Big Ten, before eventually agreeing on a substantially smaller settlement. The divorce between Texas, Oklahoma and the Big 12 feels destined for at least one courtroom, if not multiple.
But I'm not sure that I can think of an example off the top of my head where a school flat out refused to pay any exit fee.
Compared to whatever Texas will end up paying the Big 12, a million bucks isn't a lot of money. But it almost certainly is a lot of money for Eastern Kentucky, a school with an athletic department budget just a hair north of $16 million, with over $13 million of that coming from direct institutional support. Going to the proverbial legal mattresses to save $300,000 might not be worth it for most D-I schools, but maybe it would here.
My guess? This is about the money, but it's also about more than just the money. Just about everybody remaining in the OVC could benefit from getting a portion of the EKU/JSU exit fee money, but we also have to remember what conferences set up exit fees in the first place. They're supposed to be a deterrent from leaving the league.
If EKU and JSU could leave the OVC without having to pay all (or most) of that exit fee, well, what happens to any other school in the league if the WAC, or the ASUN, or the MVC, or some other conference comes calling? Defending the exit fee institution, at that point, is more than just arguing over $400,000. It's about trying to ensure the conference stays viable.
If this case isn't settled before the real lawyers get involved, I'll be interested to hear how both sides push their case.
And if nothing else, for my readers in conference leadership...maybe now isn't a bad time to quadruple check the language in your conference bylaws about exit fees.
These days...you just never know.
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