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Boise State Has Filed A Lawsuit Against Its Own Conference

Boise State's football team running onto the field.

BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 2: Running back Ryan Wolpin #21 of the Boise State Broncos carries the hammer and leads the Broncos into the stadium prior to that start of first half action against the Troy Trojans on September 2, 2017 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images)

Boise State football was a major focus of the new Mountain West Conference media deal, which was announced earlier this month. ESPN will no longer broadcast the league's games, with rights transferring over to FOX (and remaining with CBS Sports Network).

The big prize for FOX is its acquisition of rights to Boise State home games. The Broncos are one of the best draws among the Group of Five every season, and the major power in the Mountain West.

CBS Sports Network will hold onto rights for Broncos road games. Home games will be broadcast on FOX or FS1.

While it sounds like Boise State and its conference mates are in line to make more money with the deal, not all is hunky dory up in Idaho.

Today, Boise State filed a lawsuit against its conference, alleging that the way in which this new deal came about violated the re-entry agreement that the school came to with the Mountain West, after it backed out of its move to the Big East.

Earlier in the week, Boise State released a statement in which it insinuated that its decision to rejoin the league was predicated on its continued ability to negotiate its own television carve-out. Now, per the lawsuit, the Mountain West is saying that this deal ends that agreement.

From 247Sports:

"The Mountain West stated that this was the last time our deal would be negotiated separately," the statement reads. "However, Boise State’s decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home games. This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward."

In the lawsuit, which is available to read here, BSU cites Mountain West officials directly crediting the popularity and strength of the Broncos program boosting the entire league's ability to negotiate this new deal.

"In addition, Mr. Thompson made various representations during the press conference. In particular, he admitted that the media rights to Boise State's home football games, and any licenses granted for those rights, had to be negotiated separately based on the express language of the MWC's Re-Entry Agreement with Boise State. Mr. Thompson also indicated that the MWC was terminating the $1.8 million bonus it had agreed to pay Boise State in the Re-Entry Agreement Amendment and that, moving forward, Boise State would receive distributions equal to those received by the other member institutions.


"The Re-Entry Agreement as amended by the Re-Entry Agreement Amendment also expressly requires the MWC to distribute the net television revenue in a specific manner. Specifically, Boise State is to receive $1.8 million plus a share of the remainder of the net television revenue equal to the shares received by the other member institutions, except the University of Hawaii. Although the MWC is still paying the $1.8 million bonus explicitly required by this contract, it inexplicably and improperly elected to cease such payments in six years. By electing to do so, again without Boise State's consent, and despite the fact the Re-Entry Agreement as amended by the Re-Entry Agreement Amendment does not have a termination date, the MWC anticipatorily repudiated one of the material obligations it owes to Boise State under that contract.

"As a direct and proximate result of the MWC's material breaches of the Re-Entry Agreement as amended by the Re-Entry Agreement Amendment, Boise State has suffered damages in excess of the jurisdictional minimum of this Court."

While it doesn't sound like we can expect Boise State to leave the Mountain West in the immediate future, if an opportunity to leave comes, BSU may be pretty enticed by it.

[Courthouse News]