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Monday, July 1, 2013
Small victory for ACC in suit vs. Maryland

By Heather Dinich

The ACC gained a small victory in its ongoing legal disputes with the University of Maryland regarding the school's decision to leave the conference for the Big Ten.

While three counts have been tabled until a decision is made in a North Carolina court, a Maryland judge ruled that the ACC is not violating any antitrust laws by asking Maryland for its $52 million exit fee.

Judge John Paul Davey of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County, Md., released his opinion Friday.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, things are at a standstill. North Carolina is where it all began, when the ACC filed a lawsuit against Maryland in order to force the Terps to pay the league's exit fee. Originally, Maryland asked the court to dismiss the entire lawsuit. The judge denied that request; Maryland has appealed it, and the matter remains in the appeals process. We won't know anything else until that decision is rendered, and there is no definitive timetable for one. It is currently before the lower appeals court in North Carolina.

So while the ACC is suing the University of Maryland in the state of North Carolina, the University of Maryland is suing the ACC in the state of Maryland.

You're following all of this, right?

The three counts that still need to be ruled on in Maryland:

1. The University of Maryland argued that the ACC’s withdrawal penalty is “invalid and unenforceable” and that the school should receive its entire share of conference revenue. Maryland alleges that the ACC didn’t follow its own procedures as set forth in its bylaws.

2. The university also alleged a breach of contract, arguing that the ACC didn’t pay it a sum in excess of $3 million in TV revenue.

3. The University of Maryland’s final complaint charged “tortious interference,” claiming that by withholding that TV revenue, the ACC has damaged the school's business affairs and that legally, the league should not be able to withhold payment in order to enforce the withdrawal penalty.

We still have no idea if Maryland is going to have to pay the exit fee, and that’s the one thing everyone wants to know. Right now, everything is all sticky legalese and buried in paperwork the average Joe like me needs an interpreter for. Friday was a small victory for the ACC, but Maryland can also amend its case and try again if it chooses to pursue the antitrust angle.