ESPN sues Conference USA over Fox contract
ESPN has sued Conference USA, accusing the league of violating
their contract when it signed a new deal with Fox.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in New York seeks
either damages of at least $21 million or for the conference to
honor the extension the network claims it agreed to.
”We are very disappointed that ESPN has taken this action,”
Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement.
”We have had the benefit of legal counsel throughout this process
and we disagree with the positions they have taken. We are prepared
to vigorously defend any litigation initiated by them. As we said
earlier, the idea that they were disadvantaged is incorrect. They
had every opportunity to step up and address our concerns, and they
simply did not.”
The two sides signed a five-year deal in 2005 worth $21.9
million. It included a provision giving ESPN exclusive rights to
try to re-negotiate the package in 2010.
”We had agreed to terms in writing before they reneged,” said
Burke Magnus, ESPN’s senior vice president of college sports
The suit also claims Conference USA did not satisfy the terms
that would have allowed it to negotiate with other networks. The
league announced in January it had reached a five-year contract
with Fox’s networks to broadcast its football championship game and
other sports events.
The suit says the Fox deal is for $43 million, nearly double the
amount ESPN contends Conference USA agreed on to stay with the