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In a significant move to change the rapidly changing landscape of college sports, Clemson filed a lawsuit against the ACC on Tuesday to leave the league.

In a filing in the Court of Common Pleas in Pickens County, South Carolina, Clemson challenged both the ACC’s rights and exit fees and called the removal penalty “unconscionable” and “unenforceable.”

He also called the ACC’s view that the media rights granted by the league would allow the league to own Clemson’s media rights after leaving the league a “nonsensical reading,” “erroneous” and “inconsistent with the plain language of that agreement.”

Clemson is asking in the lawsuit to declare that the ACC will no longer own the rights to Clemson games after “Clemson ceases to be a member of the ACC.” Clemson is seeking an ACC exit fee — three times the ACC’s operating budget, estimated at $130 million — as an “unenforceable penalty in violation of public policy.” (The total cost of the exit, including rights and fees, was billed as $572 million by the state of Florida.)

The lawsuit is the second filed against the ACC in recent months, according to Florida State’s filing in late December. Clemson’s outfit is important because the league’s two clear football powers — and only participants in the College Football Playoff — both want to leave the league.

The ACC has already filed a lawsuit against the state of Florida in Mecklenburg County, and the sides are at loggerheads over the site.

The lawsuit comes on the same day the College Football Playoff is expected to announce a deal with ESPN, further deepening the financial gap between the Big Ten and the SEC and the rest of college sports. Under the new CFP deal that begins in 2026, each Big Ten and SEC team is expected to earn more than $21 million. ACC teams are expected to earn more than $13 million.

Clemson has made it clear that the current ACC television contract behind the upcoming SEC and Big Ten deal will loom large as a safeguard for Clemson to compete at the top level. Clemson has appeared in six College Football Playoff appearances and won national titles in 2016 and 2018.

“The ACC’s actions interfered with Clemson’s exercise of its discretionary rights to the detriment of Clemson’s efforts to ensure that its athletic programs can compete at the highest level,” the lawsuit states. “