No one was happy about losing the NCAA Basketball Tournament for both men and women this spring. It was the first major sporting event lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is beyond disappointment for Cumulus and the NCAA though. Those two organizations are embroiled in competing lawsuits because of the cancelled event.
Cumulus, a subsidiary Westwood One, has exclusive broadcast rights for the tournament. It claims that the cancellation violated its agreement with the NCAA. As a result, the company did not pay rights fees for the 2020 season. The NCAA doesn’t see it that way. It cancelled Cumulus’s contract for non-payment.
The Indiana Commercial Court in Indianapolis heard the NCAA’s dispute in September. It ruled in favor of the NCAA, saying that the league was indeed entitled to full rights payments and the cancellation of the rights deal was permissible.
Cumulus then filed its own lawsuit. It is seeking a declaratory ruling from the court that says it is not obligated to pay the rights fees since the league cancelled the NCAA Tournaments. The company also claims that the NCAA was prohibited from cancelling their deal due to non-payment.
The court has not made a decision yet on Cumulus’s lawsuit against the NCAA. The company had been seeking an injunction to stop the NCAA from cancelling the contract until the lawsuits had been resolved. The court denied that.