Jan 28, 2013

Exit fees continue to be a problem for colleges and conferences in the world of college sports. Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has filed two legal actions in Maryland — a complaint alleging that the Atlantic Coast Conference’s (ACC) exit fee is an illegal restraint of trade in violation of antitrust laws and secondly, a motion to dismiss an ACC state court action filed in North Carolina — as the University of Maryland looks to move to the Big Ten Conference in 2014.

Gansler’s actions stem from a successful vote by the ACC board to increase its exit fee more three-fold in September 2012 — to $52 million dollars — after Notre Dame joined the conference. Maryland, which left the ACC in November of last year, did not support the increase and has now brought suit against the conference itself.

“Our lawsuit calls the ACC’s ‘exit fee’ what it really is – an antitrust violation and an illegal penalty,” said Attorney General Gansler. “Our motion in North Carolina will ensure that a Maryland court will rule on the case.” (via Maryland Office of the Attorney General)

Gansler’s lawsuit points out the fact that the move to the Big Ten will provide for Maryland’s financial security while also enhancing the University’s educational and research opportunities. His lawsuit alleges that by imposing the exorbitant exit fee, the ACC is violating Maryland’s antitrust laws, breached their contractual obligations and tortiously interfered with the University gaining an economic advantage.

The second action filed by Gansler, a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the ACC, stems from an action the ACC brought to enforce their newly increased exit fee once Maryland made the decision to leave the conference.

Gansler is arguing that North Carolina is unable to hear the action on the grounds of state sovereignty; a sister state cannot compel another state to submit to the jurisdiction of their courts.

A court date for Gansler’s legal actions has it yet been set.

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