Tuesday, February 24, 2004
ACC thwarts Big East again
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Atlantic Coast Conference defeated
the Big East in court for the third time in four months.
A Connecticut judge has dismissed all claims against the ACC,
its commissioner and officers in a lawsuit filed by four Big East
schools over the ACC's expansion. A lawyer for the Big East schools
said there will be an appeal.
The expansion sparked a major makeover of several conferences as
many schools forged new affiliations.
"This is the outcome we expected and certainly we are pleased
with this ruling," ACC assistant commissioner Brian Morrison said
in a statement. "With the numerous changes in conference
affiliations in recent months it is time for everyone to move
forward in a collegial way."
The decision was made public Tuesday, a day after Judge Samuel
Sferrazza dismissed the lawsuit against ACC commissioner John
Swofford and three league officers. The judge determined neither
the conference nor the ACC officers had sufficient ties in
Connecticut to be sued in the state.
Swofford's only ties, the judge determined, was as a negotiator
with Bristol-based ESPN for ACC television contracts.
"There is no evidence that these contracts were negotiated or
signed in Connecticut," the judge wrote.
Sferrazza ruled two weeks ago that the ACC had no legal standing
to be sued in Connecticut.
On Monday, all claims were dismissed against Swofford, ACC
president Carolyn Callahan, vice president Donn Ward and treasurer
The Big East schools' lawsuit against Boston College, its
athletic director and Miami can move forward.
Boston College, Miami, and Virginia Tech, have accepted
invitations to join the ACC. Miami and Virginia Tech join this
year; Boston College comes aboard next year.
The Big East plaintiff schools -- Connecticut, Rutgers,
Pittsburgh and West Virginia -- allege that the ACC conspired with
Miami and Boston College to weaken the Big East by luring away some
of its biggest football powers.
The plaintiffs say they spent millions of dollars to upgrade
their football programs based on the presumed loyalties of the
departing schools. The schools originally sued in June 2003 and
refiled in October to add Swofford and the officers as defendants
immediately after Sferrazza dismissed claims against the ACC.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the
plaintiffs will appeal Sferrazza's ruling.
"Our lawsuit is alive and well to vindicate our claims against
Boston College and the University of Miami," Blumenthal said.
The Big East has rebuilt it ranks with Cincinnati, Louisville,
South Florida, Marquette and DePaul. The new members will begin
competing in the 2005-06 academic year.
The expanded ACC has 12 schools, enough members required by the
NCAA to stage a lucrative league championship football game in the