Arkansas State followed through with a threat to sue Miami over the canceled 2017 game that was originally scheduled for Sept. 9 at Arkansas State. The game was canceled due to the threat of Hurricane Irma, which changed games for numerous teams in and around Florida.
The lawsuit was filed in Arkansas’ Craighead County court late on a Friday afternoon, and you can read it in its entirety here. The gist of the whole deal is that Arkansas State claims Miami must pay $650,000 to the Red Wolves, as part of the contract the teams signed in 2013. The crux of the Red Wolves’ complaint centers on three pegs:
Earlier this week, KAIT-8 in Jonesboro obtained letters from both parties in which the Red Wolves threatened legal action by the end of the week:
The letter concluded:
Unless Miami changes course on or before February 15, 2018, we will begin the process of filing a lawsuit against the University of Miami in the appropriate Arkansas state court.
ASU System General Counsel Brad Phelps had the following statement:
It is very unfortunate that we have been unable to resolve this matter, and we remain hopeful this can be worked out without the need for litigation. Ultimately that will be up to the University of Miami.
In Miami’s letter written by the school’s attorney, the school offers to play Arkansas State anytime in 2024-28, but the Red Wolves AD claims the dates are “not workable” and would be “detrimental” for Arkansas State to schedule.
In Arkansas State’s letter, the school mentions other schools rescheduling games, including Florida State’s rescheduling of the ULM game from September to Dec. 2. (That wouldn’t exactly have been possible for Miami, which played Clemson in the ACC Championship that day.)
Here’s where college football game contracts come into play. Most of them have language that addresses cancellations. Here’s what this game’s said:
This contract shall be void with respect to any of the games in the event that it becomes impossible to play such game(s) by reason of unforeseen catastrophe or disaster such as fire, flood, earthquake, war, [epidemic] confiscation, by order of government, military, or public authority of prohibitory or injunctive orders of any competent judicial or other government authority. Notice of such catastrophe or disaster shall be given as soon as possible. No such cancellation shall affect the parties/ obligations as to subsequent games covered by this contract. Any games not played as scheduled shall be rescheduled as such exigencies may dictate or permit.
ASU argues that doesn’t apply here, since the disaster was in Florida, not Jonesboro, while Miami argues its travel back home would’ve been difficult.
This Miami-Arkansas State thing obviously has some moving pieces, and there will likely be a lot of back-and-forth between the two sides’ lawyers. We’ll see if Miami simply ends up paying the school, the two work out a date to reschedule, or whatever else.