The state of Maryland has filed a $156.8 million counter-claim
against the Atlantic Coast Conference, alleging the conference broke its
own rules in an effort to inflate the exit fee it says the University
of Maryland must pay for leaving to join the Big Ten Conference.
Maryland Attorney General's Office also alleges that after Maryland
announced its planned move, representatives of Wake Forest and the
University of Pittsburgh "each contacted a Big Ten university in an
attempt by the ACC to recruit at least two Big Ten schools to leave the
Big Ten and join the ACC."
These actions, according to Maryland,
are among a series of moves by the ACC that constitute "illegal,
retaliatory, and anti-competitive conduct (that) threatens irreparable
harm to Maryland and Maryland's student-athletes, student and alumni fan
base, faculty, athletic competitiveness and reputation."
The Maryland AG also is seeking punitive damages against the ACC in an amount to be specified at trial.
claim was filed late Monday in a North Carolina state court and stems
from a lawsuit the ACC filed in November 2012, shortly after Maryland
announced its intent to leave the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014.
ACC claims that under an agreement made by the ACC's member schools in
September 2012 - an agreement Maryland voted against - Maryland owes a
$52.2 million exit fee. Maryland says the ACC's effort to apply the new
provision immediately is in violation of ACC rules and was intended to
both punish the school and deter other conference members from leaving.
The ACC's lawsuit against Maryland began shortly after the school announced it was leaving the conference.
ACC filed a complaint in which it said Maryland President Wallace D.
Loh "has distanced Maryland publicly from any commitment to pay the
withdrawal payment ... referred to the withdrawal payment as 'illegal' and
indicated his contention that it is unenforceable."
complaint also said Loh has "stated publicly regarding the withdrawal
payment that it raises issues "for a court to decide" and that "when
asked directly" about whether Maryland intends to make the payment "has
refused to provide assurance that ... Maryland will do so and had made it
clear that ... Maryland does not intend to pay the amount provided by the
Maryland counter-sued in a Maryland state
court in January 2013, but in June a judge there ruled that suit should
be stayed pending the outcome of the North Carolina proceeding.
attempted to have the North Carolina case dismissed, but in November a
North Carolina state appellate court unanimously denied that motion. In
its counter-claim filed Monday, the state of Maryland continues to
maintain that the North Carolina court has no jurisdiction in the case.