|Monday, October 13
Action names BC, ACC officials individually
HARTFORD, Conn. -- Officials from four Big East football schools approved a lawsuit Monday against Boston College, its athletic director and four Atlantic Coast Conference officials, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.
The suit, to be filed Tuesday in Vernon Superior Court, alleges that the ACC and Boston College conspired to weaken the Big East. Boston College announced Sunday that it would follow the University of Miami and Virginia Tech, which are leaving the Big East to join the ACC.
"We just got off a conference call," Blumenthal said early Monday evening. "All the presidents have authorized this lawsuit."
The suit names Boston College athletic director Gene DeFilippo, ACC Commissioner John Swofford, ACC President Carolyn Callahan, ACC Vice President Donn Ward and ACC Treasurer Cecil Huey, Blumenthal said.
Connecticut, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and West Virginia already are suing Miami. A judge last week threw out a case against the ACC on jurisdictional grounds.
"I suspect the same will happen to those of us who, by virtue of our rotation, happen to be officers," Ward said. "And I suspect the people of Connecticut want their attorney general to chase far more important issues."
The case against the ACC was thrown out because attorneys could not prove the conference did enough business in Connecticut to warrant a state suit. By suing the conference directors as individuals, Big East schools hope they can get around the jurisdiction issue.
"We are not required to show they are transacting business," Blumenthal said. "If they have violated the law and have damaged Connecticut or its citizens, they can be sued."
Messages seeking comment were left at the homes and offices of the other school and conference officials. Hugh Keefe, an attorney who represented the ACC, did not return a page.
Miami and Virginia Tech will join the ACC next year. Boston College might not change conferences until 2006.
The suit makes several tort claims, including unfair trade practices, civil conspiracy and breach of contract, Blumenthal said. As in the suit against Miami, the Big East schools seek unspecified damages.
The suit singles out DeFilippo for allegedly using his role as a conference director with Big East to manipulate discussions between BC, Miami and the ACC, Blumenthal said.
"One of the key reasons that BC and DeFilippo were able to engage in this secret scheme with Miami and the ACC is that they had access to sensitive and confidential information from the Big East and its member schools," Blumenthal said.
He said Boston College's defection strengthened the case.
"The more we learn, the more appalled and astonished we are by the depth and breadth of the illegality," Blumenthal said.