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ACC files contract suit against departing Maryland

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The ACC looked to have fortified its respective realignment defenses earlier this year when the league agreed to raise its exit fee to $50 million. Only two programs voted against the raise at the time: Florida State and Maryland. FSU was at the center of Big 12 expansion rumors at the time, and Maryland announced last week that it is leaving for the Big Ten.

Now the question is will the Terps pay the $52 million, or will it be negotiated down to a (perhaps significantly) smaller number? According to a report from the Duke Chronicle, the ACC is still planning to collect every last cent of that new buyout. The conference filed a contract suit against Maryland in the North Carolina state court in Greensboro on Monday, a state court clerk confirmed to the paper.

“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,” Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “On Friday, the ACC Council of Presidents made the unanimous decision to file legal action to ensure the enforcement of this obligation.”

The Big East filed similar suits against departing members over the past year — most notably against West Virginia — before the conference eventually settled in those cases. Then again, the Big East exit fee was $5 million at the time; the ACC and Maryland are dealing with much greater numbers. The possibility of a countersuit and the process by which this lawsuit is resolved are details that are still to be determined. Given the amount of money at stake, they may not be for some time.

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31 Responses to “ACC files contract suit against departing Maryland”
  1. scalpemseminoles says: Nov 27, 2012 2:27 PM

    That sure is a funny looking basketball in the acc logo.

  2. woebegong says: Nov 27, 2012 2:40 PM

    This is sad on the face of it all, when the ACC, is suing a team like Maryland, because they want to leave for a league, with a better reputation and stronger over all conference. 50 millions bucks to leave the ACC, shows just how desperate they really are, and I would bet, if it ends up in court, the ACC will be lucky to see 20% of that. Notre Dame will join the league in a few years when it comes to football. Notre Dame may look at this case and decide not to join, given the desperate actions of the league to hold onto it’s own members, even when they no longer wish to be relegated, most seasons to second tier status. Notre Dame is only joining at all, so they can get in a BCS bowl every year, as even the Orange Bowl, brings in a fair amount of money each year. Perhaps, having a team like Notre Dame, being the conference representative each year, will help to restore the Orange Bowl to relevance once again. Having a team like Georgia Tech. playing FSU for the right to represent it, surely will not help it’s image for this years game.

  3. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 3:09 PM

    I know Coach K is hoping the $50MM sticks so they can keep the conference intact. But someone should remind him ACC BBall does not drive the car. Football drives all conference cars unless that conference either doesn’t have football playing members or they don’t care about money. The ACC should be split up so shall we begin? FSU, Ga Tech, Clemson, and NC State to Big 12. UNC & Va Tech to SEC; everyone else status quo. That is all

  4. mrhojorisin says: Nov 27, 2012 3:12 PM

    woebegong, you need to lay off the commas. Reading your post was like driving with someone who keeps randomly stepping on the brake.

  5. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 3:16 PM


    Leave Woebegone alone! He is a former military man who served our country well! He doesn’t need me to defend him but he’s too much of a gentleman to respond to your silly remark. Many of us make grammar errors on these boards. But the gist of the thought is always there.

  6. scalpemseminoles says: Nov 27, 2012 3:20 PM

    thegamecocker says:
    Nov 27, 2012 3:09 PM
    I know Coach K is hoping the $50MM sticks so they can keep the conference intact. But someone should remind him ACC BBall does not drive the car. Football drives all conference cars unless that conference either doesn’t have football playing members or they don’t care about money. The ACC should be split up so shall we begin? FSU, Ga Tech, Clemson, and NC State to Big 12. UNC & Va Tech to SEC; everyone else status quo. That is all


    UNC will NEVER leave the ACC. NCSU might go SEC, but then maybe Miami will head for the big 12 (best case scenario for them)? The hurricanes are going to be screwed geographically.

  7. deadeye says: Nov 27, 2012 3:24 PM

    The ACC won’t get the 50 million. The real number will be closer to 20 million which was the previous exit fee.

  8. frug says: Nov 27, 2012 3:30 PM

    I’ll go ahead and make two guarantees;

    1. This never sees a court room

    2. Maryland won’t pay anything close to $50 million

    My guess is this settled
    within 4 months for $20-25 million

  9. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 3:50 PM


    I think you are correct. There is just too much history between UNC and the ACC. Having said that, when it comes to conference realignment, I would “never say never”. I would never have thought Maryland would ever be in the Big 10. Would you have ever projected that? Yet here we are and they are leaving. I wouldn’t have thought A&M and Mizzou were ever coming to the SEC. Yet here we are. The $50MM ACC exit fee is so large that I think it will never hold up in court. There are two reasons why I believe this: 1) Maryland and FSU voted against it and 2) it was done AFTER ND was allowed in the conference for all sports except football. My guess is it will be a lesser amount and I also think FSU, Clemson, etc. will be watching very closely to see which way it goes. This case will set the precedent going forward. Also, one last thought: the precedent may have already been set by the Big East with W. Va. I think lawyers for Maryland will be bringing up that case as another way to reduce the fee.

  10. scalpemseminoles says: Nov 27, 2012 4:06 PM

    Very true about unexpected things happening. I doubt the exit fee will hold up as well, but I’ve been paying more attention to the big picture of where people are headed rather than the steps in between. Even if the 50 million gets whittled down to a still high number, maryland will pay it.

  11. tampabayirish says: Nov 27, 2012 4:10 PM

    I hope they stick it to Maryland for the full $50 million plus court cost. However, I suspect the exit fee will be negotiated downward in exchange for prompt payment of a lesser number and Maryland dropping any potential litigation against the ACC… And I hope Maryland gets their ass kicked in the Big 10/11/12. Bitter…yes.

  12. thegamecocker says: Nov 27, 2012 4:20 PM


    Please explain why YOU, an avid ND supporter, are so upset with Maryland leaving for greener ($$$) pastures. ND which has as much of an endowment as many of the Ivy League schools, is now upset about another school wanting to improve their lot? Why so bitter? IMO, ND screwed up by not becoming a member of the Big Ten. I think in the long run, ND will rue the day they joined the ACC. You have no idea how much power Jim Delaney has and while he remains head of the Big Ten, my belief is he will do everything possible to diminish the power of ND. This starts with devaluing the ACC. It’s going to be like a big poker game with the first hand being how much Maryland reduces the exit fee. Then the other football playing schools in the ACC will play their collective hands. And then your commitment of playing five watered down ACC pushovers will ruin your strength of schedule rating. I think that is what could happen here.

  13. drummerhoff says: Nov 27, 2012 4:34 PM

    mike tranghese just opened up a bottle of champagne and is having a good laughing.

  14. sparky151 says: Nov 27, 2012 4:39 PM

    Maryland will get the case moved to federal court in the state of Maryland. The exit fee that’s actually paid will probably be the previous amount rather than the 50 mil. UM voted against raising the exit fee and if they disagree strongly enough with a decision voted on by the rest of the conference their remedy is to leave. A court isn’t going to uphold the increased limit imposed on a school that voted against it shortly before. It’s even conceivable that Maryland will be allowed to exit with no fee at all since the whole notion of exit fees is anti-competitive and therefore suspect to begin with.

  15. overratedgators says: Nov 27, 2012 4:40 PM

    Guess the time for gracious statements has officially ended:

  16. geetee52 says: Nov 27, 2012 4:44 PM

    One might think the ACC is being unreasonable, but there are almost always two sides to every story.

    Before anyone shouts ‘GREED’ at the ACC, Maryland is also going for the money. The Terps haven’t been able to come close to winning anything in the ACC, so why would anyone think they’d be competitive in the Big 10?

    To me it looks like they just want a slice of a bigger pie and I’d be surprised if they amounted to anything more than another bottom feeder in the Big 10.

    It is always about the money and it doesn’t matter whether it is the conference or the University president.

  17. jmb795 says: Nov 27, 2012 5:05 PM

    As we all know, law ain’t about fairness, it’s about settling.

  18. slick1ru2 says: Nov 27, 2012 5:23 PM

    TV Money killed conference football play.

  19. sportsinhd says: Nov 27, 2012 6:37 PM

    slick1ru2 says:
    TV Money killed conference football play.

    I think as fans we are partly to blame, and the big conferences are just attempting to placate us. Do you want to go back to the days of no conference championship games? We decorate the Christmas Tree on the night of the SEC/Big 10 (used to be Big 12) Championship Games. It’s an event, and as college football fans we seem to be craving the event more and more.

    It used to all be about the 12 team conference and the Championship Game, in the next two year it will all be about the 16 team conference and two semi-final games one championship game. Yes, it’s about money, but that money is there because we are watching (and demanding) a bigger spectacle.

  20. charles130 says: Nov 27, 2012 8:18 PM

    Basis of the lawsuit will be anti-competitive claim.

    Maryland attorneys must’ve cringed when Loh admitted that even with the 50 million dollar exit fee, moving to the Big ten is the best financial move.

    There goes that argument.

  21. dmcgrann says: Nov 27, 2012 8:30 PM

    I’m confused over the timing of the suit. I didn’t think you could file a suit to compel performance under a contract until a cause of action occurs – like being in default under a contract. Surely the exit fee’s due date hasn’t passed already, and I haven’t seen anything to indicate that Maryland has said officially to the ACC, “We ain’t gonna pay.”

  22. dmcgrann says: Nov 27, 2012 8:36 PM

    Ahh. Found my answer. Apparently when you give notice to the ACC that you’re leaving, you’re supposed to enclose a check, right then and there. This will be settled.

  23. wvucolumbus says: Nov 27, 2012 9:21 PM

    ACC just needs to let UMD go to the B1G. If they need to pay a reasonable exit fee (ala 10M) due to timing, etc. then I understand it. As the other posters noted, US courts hate to make judgments against entities attempting to “better itself”. The 50M number is clearly a “punitive” clause and will never hold up in court. This will be settled rather quickly and 4 other members will seek potential change in conference (VPI, FSU, CU and GT).

    The ACC will be absolutely fine. It is a b-ball conference and the schools that comprise the conference do not care too much for football, as evidenced by attendance numbers.

  24. dalucks says: Nov 27, 2012 10:56 PM

    The problem people need to be asking John Swofford is “why does the ACC not have a network channel like the Big Ten?” Not that ACC network crap that shows regional games periodically on the weekend but an actually 24/7 ACC channel like the Big Ten has. The second question is “when will the ACC get its own 24/7 network channel?” I would have thought that would have happened by now. That is how the Big Ten is generating the additional revenue.

  25. dmcgrann says: Nov 27, 2012 11:26 PM

    dalucks, interesting observation. I actually get two Big Ten channels, though they show the same football games at the same time (different in basketball season). I get The Longhorn Network, too – it’s sandwiched right between BlackBelt TV and The Barbie Channel. And I’m in Virginia, for goodness’ sake.

  26. norcalirish says: Nov 28, 2012 8:35 AM

    So irrelevant.

  27. santanaspikez says: Nov 29, 2012 3:55 PM

    nobody gives 3 craps if @woebegong is or was in the military or not. even though i respect the service.
    who are you to tell anyone to do anything. last time i checked this wasnt a country ruled by military dictatorship. people can say whatever they want. the fact is woebegong opened his biased mouth looking down on the acc. the 50mill is to protect itself!!!! the majority of the conference voted and it is what it is. maryland deserves what is has coming to them. constant complaining from a charter member that really hasn’t done ANYTHING OF NOTE in 10 years!

    gamecock fans shouldn’t be allowed to speak about a conference they were kicked out of.


  28. thegamecocker says: Jan 14, 2013 2:58 PM


    First of all, THE University of South Carolina voluntarily left the conference at the conclusion of the 1970-’71 academic year. We were not kicked out. At the time, SC made a tremendous error in judgment leaving the ACC. For the next 20 years we found ourselves in “No Man’s Land”. Then we joined the SEC because Florida St declined the invitation but that is their loss. In addition, SC was going to be invited to the ACC. Now go away, cause you don’t know what you are talking about.

  29. santanaspikez says: Jan 14, 2013 4:01 PM

    @gamecocker Bulldamn****. 1st of all… Thanks for being on time. 2nd of all… You’re an internet toughguy. Fake tough guys like your team. 3rd if you didn’t leave you were going to be disassociated with. 4th… Nobody was going to invite your program back into the acc after the complaining you guys did. Know what you’re talking about you internet trash talking piece of crap. Only reason you’re in the SEC is because FSU didn’t take it. You’re leftovers. Suggest you listen to Mr kilgo. He’ll tell your gamecrap a** some history. I took time out of my workday to respond to you. Friken douche. Have a nice day.

  30. thegamecocker says: Jan 14, 2013 4:31 PM


    I’m just not going to stoop to your level of name calling. My time is worth more than that. Paul Dietzel, the football coach AND Ath Director, politically engineered the SC program leaving the ACC. He was recruiting a player that met NCAA academic requirements at that time but did not meet the ACC guidelines in terms of his qualifying ACT scores. You may remember him, Freddy Solomon, who ended up playing football at the U. of Tampa and the NFL. At that time, SC was experiencing tremendous success in the ACC which was and still is a BASKETBALL CONFERENCE! Frank McGuire was the HC but the power of the conference resided in the state of North Carolina. Duke, NC State, UNC, and Wake Forest ruled the roost so to speak and hated and I mean thoroughly despised that SC was making inroads into their basketball “empire”. McGuire NEVER wanted to leave the ACC and those of us who were there at the time also thought it was a terrible ERROR IN JUDGMENT!! The fact is, Clemson was ALSO supposed to leave the conference but they backed out of leaving at the last minute. Clemson, more than any other school, benefited from SC leaving the conference. In retrospect it was a terrible decision and SC paid heavily for 20 years! In 1991 the conferences were expanding again partly because of the success of the BIG EAST! At that time, Ga Tech and Fl State were added to the ACC. SC would have rec’d the ACC offer if Fl State didn’t take it. They chose between the ACC and SEC and went with the former. So Carolina ended up in the SEC and since football eventually became THE COLLEGE SPORT, we lucked out by being in the SEC. The school has grown both academically and physically in terms of the footprint! So don’t tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about! You’re probably a young man who thinks he knows it all but you haven’t done your homework! I KNOW! I WAS THERE! I saw it all and recorded it all. Now, I’m 63 years old and if you are near my age and STILL WANT SOME OF ME, I will be happy to oblige! In the meantime, kindly refrain from the name calling. Thank-you Sir for your consideration in this matter.

  31. santanaspikez says: Jan 14, 2013 6:56 PM

    whatever helps you sleep at night. sc fans keep coming up with excuses!!!!! multiple ones at that. which one is it?

    gamecock fans and homework doesnt belong in the same sentence. and last time i checked i have a father and can do whatever i want.

    your institution is a joke. that is all.
    good day sir.

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