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DID GREED DESTROY THE BIG EAST? OR IS IT THE BIG EAST NOT SERVING ITS MEMBERS?

I cannot stand moralistic articles like this one subtitled:

Greed and hypocrisy are leading to the downfall of the league Dave Gavitt created

Besides the fact that “created” is always a poor verb to describe human effort and accomplishment and should be reserved for God alone, this article attempts to suggest that evil forces are about to destroy a great sports conference:

The once-powerful Big East meekly goes down as just another casualty in the money-grubbing, protection-of-assets war that has overtaken college athletics.

Want more Obama style rhetoric:

Not only is that a 400-level class of doublespeak, it is steeped in irony eight years old. In 2003, Boston College bolted the Big East for the ACC. Pittsburgh and four other schools sued BC with none other than Nordenberg explaining the decision.

“This is a case that involves broken commitments, secret dealings, breaches of fiduciary responsibility, the misappropriations of conference opportunities and predatory attempts to eliminate competition,” he said at the time.

That’s all true.

Unless, of course, breaking commitments, secret dealings, breaches of fiduciary responsibility, misappropriating conference opportunities and predatory attempts to eliminate competition are to your own betterment.

Breaking a commitment?  A commitment is not a contract; that requires offer, acceptance and consideration.  A breach of fiduciary responsibility is a serious intentional tort with the potential for punitive damages.  Where’s the proof?  Secret dealings?  I expect negotiations such as this would be confidential.  Misappropriating what?  Conference opportunities?  If Pitt and Syracuse were happy in the Big East it’s pretty hard to lure them away, isn’t it?  Predatory attempts to eliminate competition?  I am no antitrust lawyer but it seems the super-conferences have plenty of competition between them.  Did this writer ask an attorney for any thoughts?  I wonder what happened to that suit?  It was DISMISSED first and this article says they finally worked it out for a million dollars for each of the five schools and some games played against each other as competition.  The Big East schools probably paid five million to the lawyers in the case – or would have if it had gone to trial.

There is a scholarly law review article that basically says no basis for a suit to change your conference affiliation.

In the absence of a jury verdict, an article in the Boston College Law Review by Gregg L. Katz sheds the best light on the thorny issue of conference realignment.

Schools change conferences, Katz wrote. The constitutions of most NCAA conferences acknowledge this, because they include the procedures (and payments, in some case) for leaving the league.

Disclosure is key, Katz wrote, but A&M has been upfront in its intentions from the day it announced it wanted to leave. The SEC, meanwhile, took pains to document that it was the Aggies, not the SEC, that had approached the new league.

Tortious interference? Someone who’s been involved in conference administration at its highest level said Thursday that he thinks, in the A&M/SEC case, that would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove.  *  *  *  As Katz wrote, most conference constitutions already spell out the guidelines for assessing damages for leaving a conference. Based upon what Nebraska and Colorado paid the Big 12 to leave, A&M’s exit fee could be in the neighborhood of $14 million.

There’s no need to sue anybody, the law review article concluded.

Seems like no legal rights are affected…

I do not know or care the writer’s politics but Dana O’Neil talks like a liberal – greed and hypocrisy destroys a great conference!  It could never be people acting in their best interest, financial or otherwise, but it has to be evil greedy forces propelled by money!  But O’Neil admits that the Big East is behind in protecting its interests and the interests of its member schools:

It is easy to place the blame for this calamity at the feet of John Marinatto, and the Big East commish is plenty culpable here. It is impossible to fathom any of this happening on Trangehese’s watch. Other conference commissioners respected him too much, and more important, his own league members trusted him to keep the Big East on the proper path.

Maybe the Big East leaders thought it was unseemly to form a super-conference.  Maybe they snobbishly thought they were above the fray.  The fact of the matter is that the Big East arguably did not act in the best interest of its schools.

How is it greedy to seek something better for you or your school?  Liberals think it is greedy to oppose tax increases for the rich, too.  There is no breach of contract (at least none proven) and if the contract between the conference and the school allows withdrawal with payment of a fee and notice (27 months!) the school is free to seek any deal they choose to do so – as long as they act in accordance with the contract.  It may seem hypocritical for Pitt to sue Boston College in 2003 and then in 2011 join the very conference BC is in but that is simply how business works.  What seems unfair in one deal is great in another.  The free market allows people and entities to act in liberty in their best interest.  As long as they do not hurt anyone or infringe on clear, enforceable legal rights, they ought to be left alone.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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