OVC files lawsuit against EKU to enforce exit fees

According to the conference’s constitution, which is a contract, the departure of any school from the OVC requires the payment of an exit fee.


BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) today filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court in Kentucky against Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and in Circuit Court of Calhoun County, Alabama, against Jacksonville State University (JSU) to enforce the payment of the schools’ contractually required exit fees for departing the conference.
EKU informed the OVC on January 26, 2021, and JSU on February 16, 2021, of their intent to depart the conference, effective June 30, 2021. According to the conference’s constitution, which is a contract, the departure of any school from the OVC requires the payment of an exit fee. The payment of exit fees was approved by all OVC members, including EKU and JSU. EKU and JSU have now refused to pay the fees.
OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche (pronounced dah-BUSH) made the announcement this morning, saying that the conference’s Board of Presidents regrets having to take this step.
“The contract for all our members regarding exit fees is clear,” DeBauche said. “Eastern Kentucky University and Jacksonville State University agreed with the exit fees as part of the contract, and they voted in favor of those fees on multiple occasions. We expect them to honor their agreed-upon OVC commitments.”
DeBauche said that the amount of the exit fee is determined by the date of the notice provided. Since EKU’s and JSU’s notices were provided less than two years before the planned exit, the fee is set at one million dollars each.
“We are disappointed in the decision of both schools, and we expect them to do the right thing by fulfilling their contractual obligations. EKU has been a member of the OVC since the conference’s founding in 1948 and JSU since 2003. They have benefited from their association with the OVC and with its fellow member institutions. To decide now that they don’t have to pay the fee not only violates their contract, it is unfair to the OVC’s member institutions, with whom these schools enjoyed long and mutually beneficial relationships,” DeBauche concluded.

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas toBKennedy@wtvq.com