After a North Carolina appeals court denied Maryland's request to have its $52.3 million exit fee from the ACC waived, the school has filed a $157 million counterclaim against the conference.
Per the Washington Post, the $157 million is “three times the amount of compensatory damages for the ACC’s violations of the Maryland Antitrust laws.” Those violations would be the $52.3 million exit fee.
It also alleges that after Maryland announced its intention to leave the ACC for the Big Ten in November of 2012, Wake Forest and Pitt tried to woo unnamed Big Ten teams to the ACC.
According to Maryland’s countersuit, a representative from Wake Forest and a representative from 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.” Maryland alleges that “these actions by the ACC were designed by the ACC to enable the ACC (and member universities) to extract more lucrative terms from potential broadcast partners, including from ESPN,” which provided “counsel and direction.”
ESPN owns the SEC Network, which is scheduled to launch in the fall. The Big Ten Network -- a primary revenue driver for the conference -- is operated in conjunction with Fox Sports. The ACC currently does not have its own television network, though discussions about a network have been held.
The increased revenue from the Big Ten is a driver for the Terrapins' switch, which starts with the 2014 football season. When the move was announced, the school projected to have $12 million more in revenue this year by switching conferences.
Maryland also says in the countersuit that $16 million in revenue from the ACC has been wrongly withheld since December 2012.
Prior to attempting to have the exit fee dismissed in the North Carolina appeals court, Maryland attempted to have it waived in Prince George's Circuit County Court. But the Maryland court was put on hold until a final judgment in North Carolina.
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