Boise State is suing the Mountain West Conference, alleging the league and its other members breached its re-entry agreement by approving a new television deal with CBS and FOX without its approval, and reneging on future $1.8 million annual bonuses for the Broncos.
In the lawsuit, filed in state district court in Idaho on Friday, Boise State alleges that the MWC reneged on two promises the league made when the Broncos agreed to stay -- and not leave for the Big East -- in 2012.
Under the terms of an amended re-entry agreement, the MWC ensured that Boise State home games would be sold as a separate package from the rest of the league's football games, and that the Broncos would receive a $1.8 million bonus every year, in addition to their equal share of the league's remaining TV revenue.
The lawsuit says that during a meeting with Boise State president Dr. Marlene Tromp and athletic director Curt Apsey at the MWC championship game in Boise in December, league commissioner Craig Thompson "acknowledged that Boise State and, in particular, its football team, was the driving force behind the new, and much more favorable and profitable, deal with Fox. Mr. Thompson also admitted that the increase in revenue to the MWC, and therefore to its members, that would result from the new agreement with CBS/Fox was dependent in large part on Fox's expressed interest in Boise State's games and, as such, he understood why Boise State expected to, and should, receive more money than the other member institutions, even double the amount."
In a joint statement Tuesday, Boise State and the Mountain West said the two are working toward a resolution. "The University and the Mountain West are currently in discussions in hopes of bringing this matter to a resolution without litigation."
Tromp, according to the lawsuit, told Thompson that "not only did Boise State expect to retain the $1.8 million guaranteed bonus set forth in the Re-Entry Agreement Amendment, but to also gain an additional, proportionate share of the increased revenue from the new television deal with Fox."
The MWC's new TV deal will reportedly triple distributions to its member schools.
In the lawsuit, Boise State's attorneys allege that the MWC's board of directors, during a meeting Dec. 15-16, voted on whether to accept the CBS/FOX agreement, and whether to continue paying Boise State a $1.8 million bonus for six more years, after which the payments would stop.
The lawsuit said two MWC directors voted against paying Boise State any additional bonuses under the new TV deal.
Last week, Boise State issued a statement, which read: "Boise State's decision to join the conference was predicated on a number of negotiated provisions, including the right to separately negotiate material terms of media rights relating to our home games. This is stated in our conference agreement and cannot be changed by any vote of the membership or conflicting agreement. We will not support any change to this provision and are in the process of weighing our options to move forward."
During a Jan. 9 announcement of the new TV deal, Thompson said this would be the last time Boise State's home games were sold separately.
"Mr. Thompson also indicated that the MWC was terminating the $1.8 million bonus it had agreed to pay Boise State in the Re-Entry Agreement Amendment and that, moving forward, Boise State would receive distributions equal to those received by the other member institutions," the lawsuit says. "Finally, despite actual knowledge of the falsity of such a statement, Mr. Thompson intimated that Boise State had agreed to the acceptance of the CBS/Fox agreement, the termination of its $1.8 million bonus and receiving distributions equal to the other member institutions in the future without any bonus for the additional revenue it admittedly generated for the MWC."