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Clemson sues ACC, 1st step in college football realignment move

Clemson appears to have taken the first step towards the next phase of college football conference realignment
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The next step in the college football conference realignment process appears to have been taken as Clemson has filed a lawsuit against the ACC in Pickens Co. (S.C.), according to court records.

Clemson stated that it has not informed the ACC that it intends to leave the conference and remains a member, but its suit suggests that the school is looking for a way to change that.

In the suit, Clemson alleges that its "ability to meaningfully explore its options regarding conference membership" is inhibited by the ACC claiming that it owns the school's media rights.

Clemson filed the suit against the ACC because, as the school said, "The ACC's actions interfere with Clemson's free exercise of its rights and are fatally detrimental to Clemson's efforts to ensure that its athletic programs can continue to compete at the highest level, which is critically important to Clemson even beyond athletics."

Clemson is hoping the court rules that the conference does not own the school's media rights after it leaves the league; that the school is not required to pay an exit fee to leave, and; that the school owns no fiduciary duties to the ACC.

This past offseason, Clemson was revealed to be one of the so-called "Magnificent Seven" schools that were scouting a possible exit from the ACC's grant of rights agreement that expires in 2036.

To leave the conference before that date, a school would have to fork over an exit fee of nine figures. 

But it appears Clemson wants to make a move before that date in order to take full advantage of the new market that has emerged since the landmark expansion phases that took place last offseason.

Clemson isn't alone, either.

This is the second legal action brought against the ACC in recent months, as Florida State also brought suit against the conference in a move the school hopes will ease the path towards leaving the league and joining another in the future.

Clemson has been "very connected" with Florida State on the issue of the ACC's future and making a potential exit from the conference, a source told SI last summer.

But the schools have taken "very different PR approaches" to the situation. 

Clemson has not made any public statement on the matter until now, whereas Florida State decision makers have stated openly in board meetings and other statements that they were not pleased with the financial situation that exists in the ACC today.

Now, Clemson has made its first public statement, and what figures the first step in a long legal process.

This story is developing

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