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ACC, Maryland settle legal dispute for $31M
University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said the agreement 'helps usher in exciting new eras for both the university and the ACC.' (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz/file)

ACC, Maryland settle legal dispute for $31M

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Atlantic Coast Conference and the University of Maryland have settled their legal dispute over the Terrapins’ exit from the league.

Under terms announced Friday, the ACC will keep the roughly $31.4 million it had previously withheld from Maryland and the school will not owe the conference any more money.

In addition, lawsuits filed by both sides will be dismissed.

“This agreement allows everyone to fully focus their energy and efforts on prioritizing the student-athletes, especially in this significant time of change within the NCAA restructuring,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. “We wish the University of Maryland well and appreciate their past contributions as we collectively look toward the future.”

Maryland announced in late 2012 that it would leave the ACC — the conference it helped create in 1953 — for the Big Ten. That came roughly two months after the league raised its exit fee for schools to leave to three times the league’s annual operational budget, which amounted to nearly $52.3 million at the time of Maryland’s announcement.

The ACC then sued the school seeking full payment of the fee — which was increased twice in the span of 12 months, first to $20 million when Pittsburgh and Syracuse were announced additions in 2011 and then to the current level in 2012 when Notre Dame said it would join in all league sports except football.

After the ACC withheld Maryland’s television and bowl revenue, the school followed by suing the ACC in January 2013, calling the fee an illegal penalty.

Earlier this year, the school filed a $157 million counterclaim against the conference, saying the ACC tried to recruit two Big Ten schools after the Terrapins announced their exit from the league.

While the exit fee was once the primary deterrent for a school to leave, the ACC took another step to protect itself five months after Maryland’s announced move when it reached a deal to keep control of the member schools’ media rights.

That grant-of-rights deal meant the ACC would control the TV rights — and more importantly, the money that comes along with it — for any school that chose to leave the league before 2027.

That agreement essentially locked schools into the league through the length of the current television deal and helped pump the brakes on years of realignment around college athletics.

Maryland officially joined the Big Ten, along with Rutgers, on July 1, and the Terrapins begin play in their new league this season. The ACC added Louisville to replace the Terps.

“The University of Maryland is proud of our long and storied 61-year association with the Atlantic Coast Conference,” Maryland President Wallace D. Loh said in a statement. “Today’s agreement helps usher in exciting new eras for both the university and the ACC.”

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