Friday, October 10, 2003

Antitrust News: "The ACC can run but it cannot hide"

A Connecticut Superior Court judge has dismissed the Atlantic Coast Conference from state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's vengeance lawsuit against the University of Miami for leaving the Big East Conference. Judge Samuel Sferrazza correctly rejected Blumenthal's efforts to assert jurisdiction over the North Carolina-based ACC in a Connecticut state court. Blumenthal and company argued the ACC's business dealings with ESPN, which is heaquartered in Bristol, Conn., provided the basis for state jurisdiction. Under this reasoning, just about any entity engage in sports programming would be liable under Connecticut law and subject to the whims of General Blumenthal. Thankfully Judge Sferrazza declined to impose an activist redefinition of standing on the ACC.

This doesn't mean the overall litigation is over. The University of Miami remains a defendant, owing to their direct dealings with the University of Connecticut as members of the Big East. And Blumenthal could easily refile his lawsuit against the ACC in a federal district court. This means Connecticut taxpayers--who already footed millions to subsidize UConn's foolish efforts to upgrade their football program to Division I-A--must subsidize Blumenthal's attempt to punish Miami for exercising its express contractual right to change conferences.

Never one to mince words, Blumenthal said "[t]he ACC can run but it cannot hide" from his litigation. This is a childish statement coming from an elected official. The ACC didn't kill anyone or hurt any Connecticut taxpayer. The ACC did what any other conference in its circumstance would have done--and more importantly, what it is entitled to do under NCAA rules and the "common law" of collegiate sports.

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