Florida State has called a special board of trustees meeting for Friday morning.
While no official reason was given for the meeting, sources indicated to ESPN that the board is expected to discuss its long-term athletics future.
The meeting, announced Thursday, comes nearly three weeks after the Seminoles became the first undefeated Power 5 champion left out of the College Football Playoff, a decision that angered university officials, its board and athletic department after a year spent voicing their unhappiness with the ACC for a host of reasons — including a widening revenue gap with other conferences, revenue distribution and its place in the collegiate landscape.
The board must vote on any action the school decides to take, including a possible challenge to the grant of rights.
Any ACC school that wants to leave the conference would have to challenge the grant of rights. Florida State and all other ACC members signed a grant of rights with the league that runs through 2036, the length of its television contract with ESPN, that gives the league control over its media rights — including television revenue and home game broadcasts in all sports. In addition, any school that wants to leave the ACC would have to pay an exit fee of three times the league’s operating budget, or roughly $120 million.
Nobody has ever legally challenged the grant of rights. ACC officials have previously described the grant of rights as “ironclad,” and firmly believe in the strength of the document. But Florida State has had its legal counsel review it at the league office in Charlotte, North Carolina.
If Florida State decides to challenge the grant of rights, it would not leave the league immediately, as the process would take some time. There also is significant risk to challenging the grant of rights. In 2022, one ACC athletic director told ESPN: “There would be a hell of a court fight, I will tell you that.”
Nearly every ACC school has studied the grant of rights since conference realignment began again in the summer of 2021, when the SEC added Texas and Oklahoma. The following summer, the Big Ten added USC and UCLA . Those moves sent shock waves through college football but also a dose of reality to the ACC, and in particular, league schools worried about falling further behind in revenue and relevance.
Florida State started sounding alarm bells about its unhappiness with the ACC in February, when athletic director Michael Alford told his board of trustees the school was about to fall behind SEC and Big Ten schools by $30 million annually when their respective new television contracts begin.
In May, it was revealed that seven ACC schools — Florida State, Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech and NC State — had conversations among themselves about the grant of rights and securing a path forward.
Though the ACC eventually agreed to change its revenue distribution model — in large part because Florida State pushed for it — an FSU board of trustees meeting in August in Tallahassee put into clearer focus just how unhappy the school had become as another wave of realignment shifted conference affiliations again.