Maryland Countersues ACC for Imposing Huge Exit Fee of $52 Million


The state of Maryland has filed a $157 million counter-claim on behalf of University of Maryland against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) for imposing a huge exit fee of $52 million. University of Maryland is set to join the Big Ten Conference, July 1.

"Our lawsuit calls the ACC's 'exit fee' what it really is - an antitrust violation and an illegal activity," Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler said. "Our motion in North Carolina will ensure that a Maryland court will rule on the case," Miami Herald reports.

The 53-page document succeeds ACC's $52 million lawsuit against the University in November 2012 soon after the school announced its decision to join Big Ten. ACC claims that the university must abide by the conference's constitution that states that a member school will be allowed to depart only after it pays an exit fee of three times its annual budget.

"We continue to extend our best wishes to the University of Maryland; however, there is the expectation that Maryland will fulfill its withdrawal payment obligation. . . . the ACC Council of Presidents made the unanimous decision to file legal action to ensure the enforcement of this obligation," Amy Yakola, ACC spokeswoman,  said at the time of filing the lawsuit, USA Today reports.

Maryland responded to the lawsuit January 2012 saying that the exit fee of approximately $52 million is an illegal penalty and is roughly 300 percent more than the previous exit fee. The University feels that such a huge amount discourages members from leaving the conference and penalizes those who intend on leaving.

Along with the huge exit fee, the university has also accused ACC for trying to recruit two Big Ten schools into its conference after it announced its decision to leave.

"The ACC has been an aggressive competitor in attempting to convince universities to leave their respective conferences and to become members of the ACC," the countersuit says.

Through the lawsuit, Maryland accuses ACC of violating North Carolina state law that prohibits unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.

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