Author: News Service of Florida (Page 1 of 3)

Weekly Roundup: Turning up the heat

News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE – Legal battles that could determine whether Florida State University stays in the Atlantic Coast Conference expanded this week, with Attorney General Ashley Moody jumping into the fray.
Florida State and the ACC have been fighting in court for months in Tallahassee and in North Carolina, where the conference is headquartered.
FSU filed a lawsuit in December in Leon County circuit court that alleges financial penalties for leaving the conference would be an “unreasonable restraint of trade” and would “violate Florida public policy and are unconscionable.” That lawsuit came a day after ACC filed a case in Mecklenburg County, N.C., against the university about many of the same issues.
The university’s desire to leave the ACC is focused in part on the conference’s contract with ESPN, Inc. and ESPN Enterprises, Inc., originally signed in 2010.
Florida State essentially contends the ACC has shortchanged its members through television contracts, with FSU widely viewed as wanting to move to a more-lucrative conference such as the Big Ten or the Southeastern Conference.
Moody filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the conference of violating the state’s public-records laws by refusing to hand over media-rights contracts that are a critical element of the dispute.
“It is incredibly astounding that the media agreements would not be given to the state of Florida when the ACC is demanding over half a billion dollars from one of our entities,” Moody said in an interview with The News Service of Florida, referring to FSU allegations that it could face more than $500 million in penalties.
A 2013 “grant of rights” agreement “irrevocably transferred” the schools’ media rights to home games to the ACC, in exchange for a collective media-rights contract with ESPN, according to court records. The grant-of-rights agreement was modified in 2016 and lasts until 2036.
Moody in January asked the ACC for documents related to the dispute with FSU, including the grant-of-rights agreement and the conference’s contract with ESPN. The ACC responded by saying the grant-of-rights agreement and other documents were publicly available, but the ESPN contract was off limits.
Moody’s lawsuit, filed in Leon County, argues that the contracts should not be shielded from scrutiny under Florida’s broad open-records law.
During a hearing Monday, meanwhile, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper gave FSU time to revamp its lawsuit.
Arguments during the hearing focused largely on whether the lawsuit could be brought against the conference in Florida, in an issue known as “personal jurisdiction.” The university was given 10 days to file an amended complaint that addresses the issue.


As more and more schools in Florida offer, or express interest in offering video gaming as an official sport, the Florida High School Athletic Association is taking notice.
Esports, as it is known, already is offered as a team or club at more than a quarter of the 425 schools that the FHSAA recently surveyed.
The organization held a discussion about esports Monday during a meeting in Gainesville, with talks focusing on the share of Florida schools that would be interested in offering programs if the games are sanctioned as an official sport.
Overall, 26.4 percent of schools that responded reported sponsoring an esports team or club. Of that overall number, 24.9 percent of public schools have teams or clubs, while 25.2 percent of private schools and 39.1 percent of charter schools said they have such programs.
The FHSAA requires at least 20 percent of schools in at least two of its four “sections,” or regions of the state, to offer a sport for it to be eligible for sanctioning.
Interest in offering esports is high among schools that did not report having programs.
More than half — 54.6 percent — of the schools surveyed said they would be interested in offering esports to students if the FHSAA sanctioned the games. Nearly 50 percent of public schools surveyed indicated interest, while more than 56 percent of private schools and 82 percent of charter schools expressed interest.
FHSAA officials did not indicate during Monday’s discussion when a potential decision could be finalized on sanctioning esports but said the organization is in the early stages of the process. The next step would be requesting petitions from member schools that would announce their intent to add esports programs.
FHSAA board member Trevor Berryhill, who also is athletic director for Oviedo private school The Master’s Academy, was among the members who voiced support for sanctioning esports.
“Last year we had a student get a scholarship to Florida State (University) in esports. He also is a part of their NIL (name, image and likeness) collective,” Berryhill said, referring to college athletes being able to earn money from business agreements such as endorsement deals.
“So it’s just another opportunity for kids to be involved in something,” Berryhill added.


Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday approved $200 million to continue a home-hardening grant program that could help about 20,000 mostly low- and moderate-income residents cut property-insurance costs.
The governor signed two bills related to the My Safe Florida Home grant program and said he also intends to support an additional $30 million in the state budget aimed at expanding the program to include condominiums.
“There’s more help on the way,” DeSantis said during an appearance at the Redington Shores Town Hall. “We understand it’s been popular and it’s been effective.”
The program offers inspections and grants up to $10,000 to help residents upgrade homes and qualify for property-insurance discounts for residences valued up to $700,000.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Attorney General Ashley Moody on Thursday amped up a legal battle between Florida State University and the Atlantic Coast Conference, filing a lawsuit accusing the conference of violating the state’s public-records law by refusing to hand over media-rights contracts that are a critical element of the dispute

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “This would be a way for us to reach out and bring some more student athletes in.” — Gulf County Schools Superintendent and Florida High School Athletic Association member David Norton, on a proposal to sanction competitive video gaming, or esports, as an official sport.

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