Boise State, former Big East still fighting over $5 million

University claims it does not owe the exit fee despite not joining the league Monday.

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comJuly 2, 2013 

BSU president Bob Kustra speaks with the media regarding the situation with the Big East before the Boise State vs Colorado State football game Oct. 15, 2011 in Fort Collins, CO.

CHRIS BUTLER — Chris Butler/Idaho Statesman

— Its divorce from the basketball-playing Big East schools official, the American Athletic Conference began operations Monday as the newest league at the highest level of NCAA athletics.

Boise State, which was not so long ago slated to join the league Monday, spent the day preparing for its third season in the Mountain West.

The entities, however, are not finished dealing with each other. Boise State sued the league in April in Fourth Judicial District Court in Ada County to have its penalty for not joining reduced to $0.

The league, still operating as the Big East at that point, countersued in May, claiming Boise State owes its entire exit fee - $5 million.

Boise State responded to the counterclaim in June, denying the most aggressive charges made by the league.

The Big East claims Boise State used its agreement with the league to negotiate more lucrative terms with the Mountain West, and that the school negotiated its own television deal apart from the league, helping to depress the value of a potential Big East deal.

Boise State football coach Chris Petersen, Athletic Director Mark Coyle and President Bob Kustra will be deposed in the case at the end of the month. A teleconference with both parties is scheduled for July 26.

The case appears to hinge on how each side characterizes the Dec. 6, 2011 agreement between Boise State and the Big East.

Boise State calls it a "memorandum of understanding" with an effective date of July 1, 2013. It claims "assuming certain conditions ... were met and absent breaches ... by the Conference," the Broncos would join as a football only member.

The Big East claims the agreement is instead a "valid and enforceable contract which took effect upon its execution and delivery in December 2011," and that it "constitutes a legal, valid and binding obligation of the University."

The Big East Conference Membership Agreement, dated Dec. 6, 2011, says if Boise State does not join the conference on July 1, 2013, it must pay $5 million.

The agreement contains provisions for lowering the fee, including ones based on television revenue and Bowl Championship Series automatic-qualifier status. None of the provisions, however, allow Boise State to reduce its fee to $0.

The school has paid its $1.5 million exit fee to the Big West Conference for not joining that league, Coyle said last month.

Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph

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