It wouldn’t be a college football offseason without a some news related to conference realignment, would it?
On July 1, Maryland, along with Rutgers, is scheduled to officially join the Big Ten, the former moving on from the ACC and the latter from the AAC. The Terps and the ACC, however, have yet to come to terms on an exit agreement (re: $), and the process that will end with Maryland in the Big Ten has suddenly gotten a whole lot murkier. And messier.
Tuesday morning, Maryland announced that it has filed a $157 million counterclaim against the ACC in which it’s alleged the conference “is confiscating NCAA monies that belong to Maryland when it has no right to do so.” Thus far, the ACC has withheld over $16 million in league revenue from Maryland because of the school’s intended move to a new conference.
The $157 million figure represents “three times the amount of compensatory damages for the ACC’s violation of Maryland antitrust laws.” The ACC is attempting to assess Maryland a $52.3 million exit fee prior to its departure.
The counterclaim also alleges that the ACC in general and Wake Forest and new member Pittsburgh specifically recruited two unnamed Big Ten schools for membership in the conference. It’s also alleged that the ACC received “counsel and direction… from ESPN” in its attempt to poach Big Ten schools, which remain anonymous for now but is suspected to include Penn State.
“The Big Ten schools involved must remain confidential until trial or discovery,” the Office of the Attorney General said in a statement to the Washington Post.
This counterclaim, which was filed in North Carolina, is part of Maryland’s response to the ACC’s $52 million lawsuit against the university. The state of Maryland had previously filed a countersuit against the ACC.
“Our lawsuit calls the ACC’s ‘exit fee’ what it really is: an antitrust violation and an illegal activity,” said Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler in a statement Tuesday. “Our motion in North Carolina will ensure that a Maryland court will rule on the case.”