The Atlantic Coast Conference is making a preemptive strike in attempting to force Maryland to pay the league’s exit fee. On Monday in Greensboro, N.C., the ACC filed suit against the school attempting to collect $52,266,342.
In the language of the suit, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press, the league is asking the court to make a “declaratory judgement” that the “withdrawal payment is a valid and enforceable contractual term.”
Maryland is leaving the ACC for the more lucrative Big Ten. Last Monday, when school president Wallace Loh announced the move, he said the following: “We have an arrangement under our membership that will ensure that the future of Maryland athletics for decades to come. As we crunch those numbers we are able to deal with this issue. In so far as the amount of that sum, that is something that we will discuss in private with the ACC.”
Two months ago Maryland and Florida State were the lone members of the conference to vote against a motion to raise the exit fee from $20 million to $50 million.
The suit says that Maryland “has indicated that it does not intend to pay the amount provided by the ACC’s constitution.” It also states that “Loh has referred to the withdrawal payment as ‘illegal’ and indicated his contention that it is unenforceable.”
When West Virginia abruptly left the Big East for the Big 12, it paid $20 million. It cost Pittsburgh and Syracuse $7.5 million to flee the Big East for the ACC. Both schools will make up the amount in their first year in the league as they will receive approximately $17 million in TV money as opposed to the $5 million received as members of the Big East.
If Maryland is required to pay the full amount of the exit fee, it will take longer for the school to make up the difference, though TV revenue will increase from $17 million as a member of the ACC to approximately $24 million in the Big Ten, with that number expected to rise dramatically when the league agrees to a new contract which will begin in 2017.