Report: Duke free of damages in contract suit with Louisville

Updated: June 21, 2008, 2:55 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

A Kentucky judge has confirmed what Duke fans have known for years: their football team is as bad as it gets.

Bad enough that Louisville should have to find another football team to replace the Blue Devils without penalty after Duke pulled out of the final three games of a four-game contract last season.

In a lawsuit filed late last year, Louisville asked for $450,000 in damages and any additional damages the court saw fit.

But Duke's lawyers argued that the Blue Devils' performance on the field was so poor that any Division I team would suffice as a replacement. Duke is 6-45 over the past five years, 13-90 since 1999.

Judge Phillip J. Shepherd of the Franklin County (Ky.) Circuit Court agreed, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"At oral argument, Duke [with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty] persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower," Shepherd wrote in a summary judgment issued Thursday, according to the paper. "Duke's argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville."

Duke, according to the suit, asked the Cardinals to find a replacement opponent and promised to pay Louisville only if the school could not find one after a "good faith" effort. A $150,000 penalty for each game was included in the contract if a "team of similar stature" could not be found to fill the date.

The two schools were to meet four times between 2002 and 2009. Louisville beat the Blue Devils 40-3 in September 2002, but Duke opted out of the final three games, to be played last season and in 2008 and 2009.

Louisville claimed it struggled to find another team and received "little, if any, help from either Duke or the [Atlantic Coast Conference]" in finding a replacement.

"We're disappointed with the ruling," Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein said, according to the Courier-Journal. "We will take our time to review the decision and explore our future options."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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