Boise State Files Lawsuit Against Mountain West
Things are heating up between Broncos and the league.
First step is established.
Boise State is wasting no time on protecting what they feel is rightfully theirs with its separate media rights deal for football which pays them $1.8 million annually for home football games.
On Jan. 17, the university filed a civil lawsuit in the fourth district court which is in Ada County, Idaho, against the Mountain West.
This all started when Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson alluded to in the teleconference that announced the new media rights deal that Boise State’s side contract was ending after the current deal.
Q. Craig, for the uninitiated, I know when people talk about Boise State, there’s some misconceptions about it. I was wondering just in the simplest terms, I’ve been around, and I know I can try to explain the best I can. How would you explain their situation and how that works with the conference and with TV rights?
CRAIG THOMPSON: Well, quite simply, we negotiate Boise State’s home football games separately, and we did for this contract. This will be arguably the last contract we will negotiate Boise State separately, but their membership agreement when we named them the Mountain West Conference years ago was predicated on us negotiating their home games separately.
One more time in a follow-up.
Q. Craig, I want to follow up on one thing quickly. You had mentioned before that this might be the last time you negotiate Boise State’s deal separately. I was wondering if you had any more insight into that.
CRAIG THOMPSON: That is the whole membership agreement was discussed in December with the board of directors, and as we move forward, that is the anticipation, that everybody’s membership agreements would get more germane and equal, if you will. But this will be the last Boise State separate negotiation for television rights.
Within the lawsuit filed (HERE) Boise State lays out its football prowess that includes its BCS/NY6 victories and overall success over the past 20-plus years since they moved up to the FBS level.
The argument being made is there is no end date for Boise State to own and negotiate its home football games.
The Re-Entry Agreement does not contain a termination or expiration date and remains in full force and effect.
The documents provide multiple exhibits which include prestigous bowl game wins and top 25 rankings.
Here are the details of the agreement from when the Mountain West and Boise State agreed upon the Broncos remaining in the conference. (The court filing underlined (we will bold below) the following sections for emphasis)
3. Television Rights. Boise State shall provide the MWC the exclusive television broadcast rights to its intercollegiate athletic events, including but not limited to home football games, each season.
In return, MWC will ensure such Boise State home football games are not part of, nor granted under, any current or future MWC conference-wide television rights contract including the MWC television rights currently under contract with CBS/CSTV or as such may be amended in the future.
MWC will ensure that the Boise State home football games are sold as a separate package. Boise State and MWC must mutually agree to whom such Boise State home football game rights are licensed and to the material terms of such license (provided that Boise State agrees in advance that CBS/CSTV may remain the prime licensee of the conference for television rights and the agreement for the sale of the Boise State home football games may take the form of a sub-license from CBS/CSTV in which case Boise State and the MWC must mutually agree to who sub-licensee is and the material terms of the sublicense).
Material terms include but are not limited to monetary terms, time/duration of the license, cancellation terms, network upon which the games are broadcast, time and dates of performance (games), and other terms relevant to payment and performance.
The revenue from such Boise State home football games license/sublicense shall be retained by the MWC and the MWC will add its retained amount to the MWC media revenue monies to be pooled and disbursed in the same manner as with all other MWC media revenues. All television broadcast rights for the Boise State away games shall be treated in the same manner as and on the same terms as other members of the MWC.
Two things stand out to this non-lawyer. First is a pretty clear argument for Boise State to retain its current deal with the language “MWC will ensure such Boise State home football games are not part of, nor granted under, any current or future MWC conference-wide television rights contract.”
Saying “future” does not mean forever but it could be implied that way.
The other piece of language that could favor the Mountain West is: “other terms relevant to payment and performance.”
While Boise State has been seen as one of the best team in the conference each year they have not been to big-time bowl games since 2014. Also, from the 2014-19 years Boise State has one top 20 ranking, two seasons finishing the year unranked, plus three seaons ranked at Nos. 22, 23 and 23.
Compare that to the prior six years and Boise State is a different story. Four top-10 finishes, one season ranked at 11 and 18, plus one season not ranked. There also was just one Fiesta Bowl win during that time.
So, an argument from the Mountain West side is that Boise State is not living up to that performance end noted in the clause above. However, with no specifics about how to retain a certain level of performance it is hard to gauge that. That reasoning also could be why Boise State is requesting a jury trial.