Ruling: Big East amended its rules improperly

Updated: August 19, 2004, 4:38 PM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Big East can't impose a $5 million fine on Boston College for defecting to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and it can't force BC to remain in the conference for an extra 15 months, a Superior Court judge has ruled.

The decision passed down Wednesday keeps Boston College on track to join the ACC next July and pay simply a $1 million withdrawal fee to the Big East.

After Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East for the ACC in June 2003, the presidents of the remaining Big East schools sought to deter further defections by raising the withdrawal fee from $1 million to $5 million and increasing the withdrawal notice from 12 to 27 months.

Boston College supported the amendment when it was proposed in July 2003 but abstained from the Oct. 6, 2003, vote at which it was approved. Six days later, BC accepted an invitation to become the ACC's 12th member.

When the Big East sought to impose the new penalties on BC, the school sued, saying the conference had improperly amended its constitution. The judge agreed, saying the Big East flouted its own rules when it created the harsher penalties.

"Whatever Boston College might have said about its state of discussions or its expressed acceptance of a $5 million, 27-month penalty, that did not impede the Big East's ability to correctly amend its Constitution," Judge Allan van Gestel said in his ruling.

"We are gratified that, after nearly a year of adverse and misleading public statements leveled against us, a respected judge has seen through to the actual merits of the case and has ruled in favor of Boston College," BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo said in a statement.

Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said the conference was "extremely disappointed" in the decision and was considering an appeal.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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