The University of Maryland has filed a $156.8 million counterclaim against the Atlantic Coast Conference, alleging that the conference broke its own rules by inflating the conference exit fee and attempting to recruit two Big Ten universities to join the ACC.
The Maryland Attorney General's Office alleges that after Maryland announced its intention to move to the Big Ten, representatives from Pittsburgh and Wake Forest, in consult with the ACC's television partners, each contacted a Big Ten school to leave the Big Ten and join the ACC.
Maryland's counterclaim does not identify the Big Ten schools the ACC attempted to poach. If I had to wager a guess, one of those schools is the public, state-related research institution that shares a state with the University of Pittsburgh. The other is a private school with two directions in its name.
Maryland believes "these actions were part of the ACC's competitive reaction to Maryland's announcement that it planned to leave the ACC."
Now I'm no lawyer, but I fail to see how allegedly courting other schools to join the conference constitutes "illegal, retaliatory, and anti-competitive conduct." How did Maryland find its way into the Big Ten in the first place? Was that not the Big Ten's "competitive reaction to the ACC adding Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh?"
The ACC's original lawsuit filed against Maryland asks a North Carolina court to declare that Maryland should be subject to the full ACC exit fee -- $52,266,342, if we are being specific here -- for leaving the conference. ACC membership voted to increase the exit fee to three times the conference's operating budget in 2012. Maryland and Florida State voted against the increase.
Maryland has tried to dismiss the ACC's original lawsuit, claiming that the North Carolina court has no jurisdiction in the case. The North Carolina state appellate court denied that motion in November.
No word on whether the ACC will file a ~$257 million counter-countersuit claiming that the Big Ten tried to poach North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia Tech after Maryland announced its intentions to leave the ACC for the Big Ten.
For more details on the lawsuit, stop by Testudo Times.