The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and its marketing agent, New Vision Sports Properties, are being sued for allegedly not paying for broadcast services. In a suit filed this week in the North Carolina Superior Court, Integrated Sports Media LLC (ISM) accused both the athletic conference and New Vision for breaching a contract that was signed before the start of the 2004 NCAA football season that ensured the live and delayed broadcast of various MEAC football games.
According to www.HBCUsports.com, Lut Williams, president of ISM, said that six live telecasts and three delayed broadcasts of MEAC football games were aired last fall. New Vision had agreed to pay ISM $561,000 for the work. In the suit, ISM alleges that New Vision “breached a contract, engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices and acted fraudulently.”
The MEAC, on the other hand, is accused of interfering with the contract agreement and breaching “good faith.”
Before the 2004 collegiate football season, MEAC Commissioner, Dennis Thomas approached New Vision Sports Properties to bring Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) football to a larger audience.
According to www.black-collegian.com, the deal united the MEAC with the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) under one banner in an effort to bolster an already growing audience.
The African-American owned New Vision then approached ISM, an African-American owned production and distribution company, in order to pull prospective television and regional outlets. In all, the deal called for the 18 newly televised games from the three conferences – a major step for HBCU football.
In a statement released by New Vision, co-founder Steven Malcolm said, “If indeed ISM has chosen to resolve this matter in the courts, I only hope they’re prepared to do battle. Their claims are completely false and without legal precedent.”
Both the MEAC and the New Vision have not ruled out a possible counter suit, claiming that the TV production and distribution company breached the contract over three months ago and were notified of such. However,
ISM has not replied to this claim but assured that they have been awaiting payment since October.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of an announcement in December that the MEAC and SWAC reached an agreement with ESPNU to televise games nationally in the upcoming years. ESPNU is ESPN’s latest chapter in sports coverage and is a 24-hour initiative that is solely centered around the coverage of collegiate athletics. The seven-year deal calls for the coverage of both basketball and football as well as other special events.
However, before courtside coverage begins on ESPNU, the MEAC and New Vision will first have to combat ISM in the court of law.