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Extortion? Attorney General Gansler To Challenge Univ. Of Md.’s $53 Million ACC Exit Fee

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Alex DeMetrick 370x278 Alex DeMetrick
Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) Calling it extortion, Maryland’s Attorney General is taking legal action against the ACC.

Alex DeMetrick reports it all revolves around a lawsuit seeking $53 million from the University of Maryland.

When the University of Maryland decided to play ball somewhere else, its home conference sued. The ACC went to a court in North Carolina, claiming Maryland owed a $53 million exit fee when it jumped to the Big Ten conference.

“The conference itself is located in North Carolina, so they filed in North Carolina. They tried to get a little home cooking, but obviously a conference can’t sue a state,” said Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler.

So Maryland’s Attorney General is challenging North Carolina’s jurisdiction to hear the ACC lawsuit.

“It’s more appropriately litigated in the state of Maryland where the University of Maryland is located,” Gansler said.

Moving the suit to Maryland is only the first step. The second is winning it.

In college sports, the bigger the TV market your games are broadcast in, the more your school makes. In the ACC that brings Maryland $17 million a year; the Big Ten will bring in $25 million.

“[That will buy] the financial sustainability of Maryland athletics for a long, long time,” said University of Maryland President Dr. Wallace Loh.

But by walking away, the ACC claims Maryland is financially hurting other schools in its conference. Hence the $53 million, and Gansler’s second legal maneuver.

“Which is the antitrust claim, saying you cannot prohibit the free flow of colleges to join whatever conference they want to go to by trying to extort $53 million from them,” he said.

Whether that argument causes the ACC to fear the turtle will be up to a judge to decide.

There have been financial penalties for other schools changing athletic conferences. The largest was $12 million paid by the University of West Virginia.

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