Broader Implications for Intercollegiate Athletic Conferences
— Spilman Thomas & Battle (Spilman) announced that client Mountain East Conference (MEC) recently received a favorable ruling in the Northern District of West Virginia in an important and groundbreaking lawsuit involving the withdrawal of a former member university from the conference.
Per the Court’s ruling, the former member is required to pay the conference exit fee in full.
Reid Amos, Commissioner of the MEC, said he could not be happier with this result.
“While we strongly believe this issue should not have required legal action, this is the appropriate and just outcome we have hoped for since 2020. I greatly appreciate our member Presidents who serve on our MEC Board of Directors and their consistent support regarding our commitment to achieving this result.”
Not only is this an important win for MEC, but the ruling has broader implications for college and university athletics. This decision represents the first ruling by a court that upholds the validity of a liquidated damages clause or “exit fee” in the context of a member school refusing to pay the same upon leaving a conference.
“This ruling reinforces the notion that the constitutions and bylaws of athletic conferences that include an exit fee are enforceable contractual agreements between the conference and its member institutions,” said Michael S. Garrison
, who led the Spilman litigation team. “This is a significant win for the MEC and its member institutions. It is also an important and well-reasoned decision in the era of continued conference realignment.”
The Court’s ruling can be found here
About Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC
Spilman Thomas & Battle is a full-service, super-regional law firm serving local, regional, national and international businesses. Founded in 1864, Spilman has offices in Charleston, Morgantown and Wheeling, West Virginia; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Roanoke, Virginia. Michael S. Garrison is the Managing Member of the Morgantown office of Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC.
About The MEC:
The Mountain East Conference features 12 NCAA Division II member colleges and universities located in three states. The league sponsors 23 NCAA championship sports. MEC teams have won six NCAA team national championships, have played in 12 NCAA Championship games, and won 37 regional championships. MEC student-athletes also excel in the classroom with over 2,400 earning academic recognition in 2021-22. The league has also produced nine Elite 90 award winners, recognizing the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average who has reached the site of the finals for each of the NCAA's 90 men's and women's championships across its three divisions. The Mountain East Conference is headquartered in Bridgeport, West Virginia. For more information, please visit https://mountaineast.org/