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Florida State takes aim at former ACC commissioner John Swofford in amended lawsuit against league

Florida State has personalized its legal battle with the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Seminoles filed an amended complaint against the league late Monday that alleges former commissioner John Swofford cost member schools millions of dollars by acting in the best interest of his son who worked at television partner Raycom Sports.

FSU added 21 pages to its complaint filed in Leon County Circuit Court in response to the league’s amended document that accused the school of breach of contract. The ACC says the Seminoles broke promises when they legally challenged an agreement that binds the school to the league for the next dozen years.

The ACC initially sued the Florida State Board of Trustees in North Carolina in late December, asking a court to uphold the grant of rights as a valid and enforceable contract. Florida State is seeking a quick and easy path out of the conference instead of paying more than $500 million in exit fees and penalties.

The sides have gone back and forth since, with the Seminoles making the latest allegations. This version rebutted several of the league’s previous claims and questioned the legality of the ACC’s complaint. Most noticeable was how it took aim at Swofford and his family ties to Raycom, a regional sports network based in North Carolina.

FSU added the phrase “self-dealing” to its complaint, which contends that ACC schools have lost $82 million each year in revenue from their Tier II and Tier III media rights as a result of the conference’s deal with Raycom.

According to the complaint, Chad Swofford was director of business development at Raycom Sports in 2008 when the Southeastern Conference sold all of its media rights to ESPN and cut Raycom out of its TV deal for the first time in more than two decades.

And when the ACC’s media rights came up for bid in 2010, Florida State alleges John Swofford made it clear to ESPN and FOX that Raycom needed to be involved in the package.

“When the smoke cleared, with the ACC members’ Tier II and Tier III media rights as barter, Swofford cajoled ESPN into entering into a separate ‘sublicensing arrangement’ with Raycom Sports under which ESPN sublicensed to Raycom Sports a package of content in exchange for which Raycom paid to ESPN a reported $50 million a year,” the complaint said.

According to the complaint, Chad Swofford was promoted to Senior Director, New Media and Business Development at Raycom in June 2012. He was promoted again to vice president and general manager of ACC Digital in 2015.

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