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The Big 12 Approached Arkansas… So The SEC Should Sue For Tortious Interference

Tit meet tat. 

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long revealed today to a Razorback booster club that the Big 12 recently reached out to the Hogs about joining their conference.

Let’s get this straight:


* Texas A&M called the SEC in July — not the other way around, mind you — and the SEC answered and listened.

* At least one Big 12 school — Baylor — is now threatening to sue the SEC (and even commissioner Mike Slive personally) for tortious interference.

* Yet Big 12 representatives allegedly picked up the phone and called Arkansas.  Which is a lot worse than answering a call as Slive did.


Hell, friends, it’s time for the SEC to dial up its own lawyers.

First things first, according to Long, the conversations between UA and the Big 12 didn’t go very far:


“I think our program is such that there are a number of conferences who would love to have us as a member.  But we are strongly committed to the SEC and I’d be surprised if we weren’t reached out to by other conferences about joining them.

That happened.  It didn’t surprise me, but we’re committed to the SEC.  It’s the strongest conference in the country and is only going to get stronger.”


Long also said that the SEC is “not out searching for other institutions… they are knocking on our door.”

Ah, but back to our original — and admittedly childish — point: If the Baylor wants to sue the SEC, it looks like the SEC could return serve with a suit of its own.  Because when it comes to tortious interference, it sounds like the Big 12 did more interfering than the SEC did.

Not only should the SEC sue the Big 12, but it should sue each individual member of the conference, if possible.  Would Baylor and the other remaining Big 12 schools want to be tied up in such a wave of ridiculous lawsuits?  Probably not.  And that just might be enough to goad BU into dropping its own frivolous suit.

If nothing else, this just proves the silliness of the entire process.  A university should be in control of its own destiny.  If it wants to move, it should be able to move… especially if it’s prepared to pay the exit fees required for escape.

The idea that the conferences aren’t all playing the same games is ridiculous.  And to blame leagues for luring schools out of existing contracts is absurd.

If your league — be it the Big 12, the Big East, the SEC, or any other conference — isn’t successful enough to keep its own schools from looking elsewhere then that’s your league’s fault.  And no one else’s.

 


14 comments
@DaveNelAgDuck
@DaveNelAgDuck

Why is the SEC so risk averse with regard to being sued? Litigation seems like a customary aspect of doing business. It would appear to me that the SEC has insulated itself rather well from a tortious interference claim. While Baylor can certainly sue (you can sue a ham sandwich, as the old saying goes), its prospects of winning appear remote.

With the Texas television market and football recruiting fields set to open up because of this deal, isn't litigation a manageable risk?

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

"While Baylor can certainly sue (you can sue a ham sandwich, as the old saying goes), its prospects of winning appear remote."

If that were the case, the SEC wouldn't have been tiptoeing around this issue from the beginning. If it wasn't for the lawsuit issue, A&M would have been voted in during their first meeting weeks ago, when the SEC "decided to remain at 12 members at this time." And now, A&M's entrance is contingent on not getting sued. It looks like there may be more teeth to the agreement that A&M signed to stay in the Big 12 than appears to be. That also explains why Oklahoma and Texas (and Okie State and Texas Tech) are waiting on A&M to move first. Looks like those schools are trying to generate media and political pressure to let them out of their agreement. That may be why the Mississippi State president singled out Baylor ... part of the strategy I guess.

Dagga Roosta
Dagga Roosta

As I remarked above, the TI case is pretty compelling. Baylor (and now the other 5 schools refusing to waive their right to sue) don't need a smoking gun. They just need to demonstrate that a preponderance of the evidence points to the SEC inducing A&M to break its contracts with those schools. Texas law actually defines TI more loosely than other states; the SEC doesn't need to engage in anything "wrongful", merely an enticement.

Good news for y'all Aggie-lovers: those schools are also saying if OU commits to staying in the Big 12-3, they'll sign the waiver. If OU refuses they'll almost surely pull the same trick on the Pac 12. So as soon as OU realizes they've painted themselves into a corner with their loudmouth president, they'll relent and A&M will be on its merry way.

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

Plus, even if it's not a winner case for Baylor, litigation like this is usually long and expensive, which the SEC would obviously like to avoid for numerous reasons (money, resources, PR issues) even if they think they would ultimately prevail in the lawsuit.

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

According to ESPN, it isn't just Baylor. Iowa State is joining them.

Dagga Roosta
Dagga Roosta

Mr. Pennington - sorry, but the whole suit-countersuit bidness isn't in the cards. Baylor doesn't have to sue. They just have to refuse to sign a tortious interference waiver. The SEC has already required A&M to get those waiver signatures from the rest of the Big 12 and if they don't, deal's off. And no one can sue BU for refusing to give up their legal rights. It's pretty much a trump card which is why Billy Liucci's in such a bad state.

And as far as suing the Big 12 for contacting Arkansas, well you'd have a case if Arky actually took them up on it. As it stands though, no harm, no tort. That's the thing about lawsuits: if you wanna win damages, you have to demonstrate that damage was done. And that's why BU's case is actually quite solid if they don't waive their rights first. The SEC's defense against TI is legally suave but kind of a Kevorkian defense. Setting out instructions for A&M to cut their own umbilical cord isn't substantially different than cutting it yourself.

ShannyDeridan
ShannyDeridan

fyi just heard BIlly Lucci on Finebaum, and he sounded really depressed about the latest happenings

He's been on several times over the last month and he's a huge A&M guy and was so excited and kept fluffing how great a program the SEC is getting (he called them another Florida), and was talking about how there were press conferences scheduled today etc.

but he seems to think this is gonna put a hold on this deal for several months. I found it very interesting how depressed and deflated he was by this news b/c i thought it was a bunch of nothing, but he was so sure about A&M to the SEC for so long and so pumped about it and now he seems like he just doesn't even know anymore.

i didn't post any links, dont know if this will get deleted or not, but I found it quite interesting how much his take on things changed after the baylor lawsuit... which I had assumed was nothing more than a tiny bump in the road. he seems to feel like its a bigger deal

Jamie Thornton
Jamie Thornton

Texas A&M could go indy for one season and then join. What's Baylor going to do? For real? They can have just as many lawsuits filed against them.

ShannyDeridan
ShannyDeridan

they dont care they are desparate

its either file frivilous lawsuits to "keep hope alive" or just accept the inevitable and join the Sunbelt or CUSA

I expect they'll scratch and claw and put up as much of a fight as they can b/c nobody joins the Sun Belt without some kicking and screaming

tradeassociation
tradeassociation

CUSA is not an option. A major writer in Houston says that if the Big 12 goes away, Baylor may cease attempting to field a major sports program.

Gerald
Gerald

Good stuff on Finebaum today

ShannyDeridan
ShannyDeridan

You are missing the point John

The SEC doesn't want to be tied up in all those frivilous lawsuits either- so the last thing they would EVER do is start counter suing in retaliation

I get your point, tit for tat, but the difference is Baylor doesn't mind being in a lawsuit (its president is Ken Starr)... the SEC is trying to avoid lawsuits and litigation at all costs, even if it puts the kaibosh on the A&M deal for now

ShannyDeridan
ShannyDeridan

I mentioned this last week and you jumped all over me about how it wasn't gonna happen

You were right about one thing though, Arky surely laughed in their face

SEC doesn't have a buyout or penalty clause for schools leaving though, like the Big XII does. I mean who would ever want to leave the SEC? Nobody... so I guess we dont really need one

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

ShannyDeridan...

I said that there was no way Arkansas would leave. Never ever said the Big 12 wouldn't approach them.

John

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