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.