Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Latest College Sport is Competitive Litigating

Just when you thought the latest college sport was conference jumping, we can now see that it's actually a different but closely aligned activity, competitive litigating.

Where does one begin to explain the saga of the realignment of conference affiliations of NCAA athletics programs over the last several years? In a frenzied grab for athletic riches, college presidents have set out to destroy traditional athletic rivalries all over the country. While professing to care about the well-being of student athletes, presidents and athletic directors have created conferences that ignore geographical limits ion favor of big football payouts, putting student athletes academic performance at risk from increased travel and missed class time. And that is where our story begins.

In December 2011, Boise State University agreed to join the Big East Conference with intercollegiate play to begin in 2013. The principal motivation behind this move appeared to be as a way to get its football team into a conference with a BCS bowl bid - which meant a more lucrative payout. Over the course of the next year, as teams continued to announce exits from and invitations to the Big East Conference, BSU changed its mind.  In December 2012, BSU announced it was returning to the Mountain West Conference. According to the Big East Conference, BSU owes an exit fee of $5M. BSU says that the Big East Conference doesn't even exist anymore, having been renamed the American Athletic Conference (the name "Big East" had been assigned to a cadre of 7 non-BCS members who formed a separate league) and no longer has an automatic BCS bowl bid.

The AAC (nee Big East) threatened to sue.  Apparently BSU has beaten them to the punch. Let the games begin. May the biggest treasury and the most aggressive tactics win.

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