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AAC Plays Hardball With Rutgers

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The American Athletic Conference is threatening to withold a $1.5 million Pinstripe Bowl payout from Rutgers unless the two sides settle a legal dispute regarding the Scarlet Knights' conference exit fee. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.
The American Athletic Conference is threatening to withold a $1.5 million Pinstripe Bowl payout from Rutgers unless the two sides settle a legal dispute regarding the Scarlet Knights' conference exit fee. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.

Rutgers, which didn't have to spend tens of thousands on travel costs, has the rare chance to turn a profit on a bowl game, but that's if the American Athletic Conference relinquishes the $1.5 million Pinstripe Bowl payment.

The conference plans to withhold the payment as part of an ongoing legal dispute concerning Rutgers' exit fee, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.

The Scarlet Knights are headed to the Big Ten after a one-year stop in the inaugural AAC. Neither the conference or the school would comment on the situation to the paper Saturday, but Rutgers filed suit to contest the $10 million exit fee.

"The Big East has elected not to enforce the bylaws, including the 27-months provision (waiting period) and payment of withdrawal fees, consistently and uniformly to the detriment of the remaining members of the Big East," the suit claims, according to the Star-Ledger.

Rutgers also is suing for lost revenue due to a canceled home game with TCU, which moved to the Big 12 rather than join the Big East as originally scheduled.

The announcement is a public power play by the conference. Buyouts related to conference realignment are loosely based on conference bylaws, which schools often negotiating their own terms to leave earlier than the rules allow. Because bowl payouts don't take place until spring, the threat will not come into play if the two sides settle before then.

Louisville also is departing the conference, formerly the Big East, for the ACC in 2014.

Hopefully we'll see less of this mess in coming seasons as its hard to imagine a continued fracturing of conference alignment as significant as we've undergone the last few seasons in college football.