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The ACC vigorously refuted Florida State's attack on the legitimacy of the conference's grant of rights Friday as the university moves forward with a critical first step towards an attempted departure. Following unanimous approval from the board of trustees, FSU filed a lawsuit in the Tallahassee Circuit Court challenging what has been viewed as an "ironclad" agreement between the ACC and its members through 2036. 

In the filing, Florida State claims that the ACC failed in its responsibility to create adequate media rights value for the conference with the longterm deal. Additionally, FSU claims that a $572 million penalty to leave the conference is unenforceable, of which $130 million comes from a television buyout. 

"Florida State's decision to file against the conference is in direct conflict with their longstanding obligations and is a clear violation of their legal commitments to the other members of the conference," ACC commissioner Jim Phillips and ACC board chair Jim Ryan said in a statement. "All ACC members, including Florida State, willingly and knowingly re-signed the current Grant of Rights in 2016, which is wholly enforceable and binding through 2036. Each university has benefited from this agreement, receiving millions of dollars and neither Florida State, nor any other institution, has ever challenged its legitimacy." 

The ACC, which on Thursday proactively filed its own suit against FSU defending its grant of rights, has slowly fallen behind its peers in the Big Ten and SEC from a revenue perspective, and the long-term deal with ESPN has only complicated matters. The league will receive more than $30 million per school in television payout this upcoming season, but the number is dwarfed by potential payouts clearing $60 million in the SEC and Big Ten heading forward. 

Florida State became the first undefeated power conference team to miss the College Football Playoff since the format was introduced in 2014 after Alabama and Texas jumped the 'Noles on Selection Sunday. Since then, pressure has only risen to leave the ACC and find a place in one of the two bigger leagues. However, the language of both the grant of rights and television contract have been a major hindrance. 

"We are confident that the Grant of Rights, which has been honored by all other universities who signed similar agreements, will be affirmed by the courts and the conference's legal counsel will vigorously enforce the agreement in the best interests of the ACC's current and incoming members," Phillips and Ryan said. 

At least seven ACC members have looked into the ACC's grant of rights over the last year to test the feasibility of breaking the agreement. Ultimately, all have decided to stand down -- except Florida State. The result of the lawsuit will have major long-term implications for the conference.