Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

November 28, 2012

ACC suing Maryland over exit fee

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference has filed a lawsuit against Maryland seeking full payment of the approximately $53 million exit fee for the school’s move to the Big Ten.

According to the 10-page lawsuit, the ACC said the school must pay $52,266,342, which is three times the league’s annual operating budget for the 2012-13 season.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the lawsuit filed Monday in Guilford County Superior Court, home to the league headquarters in Greensboro.

The lawsuit also states that Maryland President Wallace D. Loh has “refused to provide assurance” that the school will pay the exit fee and “has made it clear that defendant Maryland does not intend to pay the amount.”

In a statement, Commissioner John Swofford says the ACC’s council of presidents unanimously decided “to file legal action to ensure enforcement of this obligation.”

“We continue to extend our best wishes to the University of Maryland; however, there is the expectation that Maryland will fulfill its exit fee obligation,” Swofford said.

Brian Ullmann, Maryland’s assistant vice president for marketing and communications, declined to comment in an email Tuesday afternoon.

The league argued that all ACC schools have “agreed to be bound” by votes taken by the league’s council of presidents, which approved the increase.

The league raised its exit fee to roughly $50 million in September after adding Notre Dame in all sports except football, though it’s still unclear exactly when the Fighting Irish will begin play in the ACC. The exit fee is three times the league’s annual operating budget so it could fluctuate from year to year.

Maryland was one of two schools that voted against the increased exit fee. Florida State also voted against the increase.

The ACC twice increased its exit fee in the span of a year. The fee was around $12 million to $14 million before the league announced in September 2011 it would add Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East, which led the league to up the fee to $20 million.

But Loh told The Washington Post he voted against the increase connected to the Notre Dame move because he thought the higher fee was “illegal and philosophically not a good idea.” He also called it an “exit penalty.”

Two months later, Maryland notified the ACC it planned to leave. The school is scheduled to begin Big Ten play in 2014.

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