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Tampa’s Bisk Education takes on U.S. News & World Report over ‘ranking list’ agreements

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In 1971, Nathan Bisk founded Bisk Education, the Tampa-based organization that partners with universities and other higher learning programs and businesses providing them with the resources to help train and educate employees.

In 2008, current President Michael Bisk, son of its founder, entered into an agreement with the well-known website U.S. News and World Report. U.S. News is best known for its ‘ranking lists’ detailing the best colleges, graduate schools, hospitals and doctors.

The agreement was for Bisk to build and maintain an online educational directory for U.S. News that would generate revenue from advertisements, with both companies sharing the proceeds. The agreement was to last at least through 2018.

However, many industries detailed in the lists provided by U.S. News have accused the company of a conflict of interest, calling their rankings “unscientific.” They suggest the company is paying too close attention to — and possibly inflate the rankings of — establishments with financial connections to the news company.

Giving the suggestion credence was the release of a 2015 report in which Bisk Education talks up the ranking of Florida Institute of Technology’s online degrees and MBA programs, calling them the “among the nation’s best.”

Bisk Education technology powers Florida Tech’s online programs, but the news release fails to mention any connection between Bisk and U.S. News. The University of South Florida is also among Bisk’s collegiate partners.

Although it appears a mutually beneficial agreement was in place between Bisk and U.S. News, things turned sour when Bisk learned U.S. News was in negotiations with another “international third party” to provide much of the same services already provided by Bisk.

According to a lawsuit filed June 8 in Hillsborough County’s 13th Judicial Court, Bisk accuses U.S. News of doing everything it can to replace Bisk including secret negotiations with other parties, fabricating alleged breaches of information by Bisk and using unfair tactics to prevent Bisk from renewing or assigning the contract.

In essence, Bisk alleges U.S. News believes it can get a better deal elsewhere. Unhappy at its treatment, Bisk filed suit for breach of contract.

Neither parties involved in the case would respond to request for comment as of press time.

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