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Maryland attorney general files two motions against Atlantic Coast Conference

Jan 18, 2013, 6:45 PM EDT

Maryland Announces Move to Big Ten Conference Getty Images

The moment that the University of Maryland announced its intentions to leave the ACC for the Big Ten in November, those who have anything to do with collegiate athletics had to believe that this would not be a pretty situation.

While there has been plenty of movement in recent years the feelings tend to be more raw when a league is losing a member for the first time, as was the case for John Swofford’s conference.

In the aftermath of that decision the conference sued the University to make sure they would receive the full $53 million exit fee as agreed upon (by vote; Maryland and Florida State voted against this measure) by league members when Notre Dame joined the ACC in all sports with the exception of football.

With the ACC also making the move to withhold “shared revenue payments as collateral towards the exit fee” (that’s about $3 million right now), two motions were filed by Maryland attorney general Douglas F. Gansler to get the ACC’s lawsuit (filed in North Carolina) dismissed.

The state also wants the shared revenue money that the ACC is withholding to be released to Maryland.

“They sent us a letter saying they are withholding royalties, the amount of money [the University of Maryland is] entitled to,” Gansler said. “They’re doing this because the University of Maryland owes them $53 million.

“When they sent us the letter, that triggered the ability for us to bring a lawsuit in court, saying you owe us this money. That’s what we filed. We filed it for the money and for the antitrust implications.”

According to both the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post Gansler filed motions in Prince Georges County (Md.) and Greensboro, N.C., with the latter being the city in which the ACC offices are located.

The matter of the $53 million exit fee is something that many within collegiate athletics will keep a close eye on. If the ACC gets its way and Maryland has to pay the full amount, will this keep their current (and future) membership from having wandering eyes?

If Maryland were to end up paying far less than that amount could that open the doors for other conferences to go after ACC members?

In voting against the raised exit fee in September, Maryland president Wallace D. Loh stated that he didn’t agree with the punishment of “people if they simply exit a relationship.”

Loh stressed that his objection stemmed solely from personal beliefs, and not a desire on Maryland’s part to protect itself in the event that it one day decides to leave the ACC. In fact, Loh repeatedly praised the relationship between Maryland and the ACC, saying that the school will continue to be a part of it for years to come.

Today’s action by the State of Maryland was to be expected. And with both sides looking unwilling to budge, the situation between Maryland and the ACC could get ugly. And just how ugly it gets will have an impact on the next step (if there is one) in major conference realignment.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

  1. kinggw - Jan 18, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    I know it will never happen, but Im hoping this thing gets so ugly that Maryland will be forced to stay in the ACC.

    Its selfish, but as alumnus who was privy to some great moments in Maryland athletic history, like Fridge taking the football team from oblivion to the Orange Bowl, Final Four in 01′ and National Championship in 02′; I can’t imagine Maryland being anyplace else but the ACC.

  2. critter69 - Jan 19, 2013 at 5:18 AM

    The funny thing about damages is that they can’t be calculated until after they occur. The ACC is claiming the $53 million is damages the ACC will incur, but UMCP is not leaving until the end of June 2014, so the calculation of damages can’t begin until after that date.

    As to Maryland staying in the ACC? Little reason for them to stay. They’ve already ticked off most of, if not all the other schools, and if they stay, they almost certainly will be a leader of any dissident vote for anything contentious brought up in the ACC.

    Does the ACC share the research assets of the member schools like they do in the Big Ten?

    Less than two years of Big Ten money from just the Big Ten Network will repay all the ACC money (if they have to pay $53 million in total, which they won’t, as the ACC already is withholding money, for one thing).

    Athletic championships? Each year for the past 2-3 decades, the Big Ten has had multiple schools in football bowl games, the NCAA basketball championships, swimming, wrestling, and multiple other sports. And remember, after expenses, each school shares equally in the receipts, so even if they aren’t in the tournament, they get the benefit.

    And remember, the Big Ten Conference was founded more than five decades prior to the ACC’s founding.

  3. onlyoneleft - Jan 19, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Good riddance, but make them pay through the nose.

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