The University of Maryland and the ACC reached a settlement today, agreeing to end all litigation between both parties. Maryland agreed to allowing the ACC to keep the balance of all withheld payments to date in the sum of $31,361,788 in order to resolve the lawsuits and in return has no further obligation to make any additional payments to the ACC. The full press release from the University of Maryland can be found here.
This settlement ends the dispute in which the ACC had sued Maryland for the roughly $51 million dollar exit fee for leaving the conference that Maryland contended was in violation of Anti-Trust laws. Maryland had countered with a lawsuit of their own, seeking treble damages in the amount of $117 or so million dollars. The lawsuit was stuck in the discovery phase and appeared to be slated to drag on for a long time, as Maryland was seeking documents from all ACC schools and ESPN regarding possible interference and collusion to seek additional members for the ACC.
What does this mean for Maryland going forward? Well, it means that they are not on the hook to make any actual payments to the ACC to leave the league; however, they will not be able to gain back any of the withheld revenue that the ACC began to withhold last year after Maryland announced the move to the B1G. Personally I think that is a huge loss for Maryland, who in my opinion did seem to have a solid legal stance that the ACC was wrongfully withholding funding from Maryland, and attempting to enforce the new exit fee on Maryland before it was even in full effect for the entire ACC. I'm sure there was a push from the B1G to get this done, as it was potentially a huge distraction moving forward into the new conference and Delaney most likely did not want any negative PR surrounding any of the member institutions regarding legal issues, especially one that had the potential to drag on and become extremely messy.
Does this hurt Maryland financially? Yes and no. They aren't able to recoup any of the funding that was withheld from them, which is a loss now, but in terms of the future Maryland always stood to gain significantly from this move in the first place. The risk was always there that they would have needed to pay the entire exit fee amount, and I'm sure that was taken into account before the move. The risk was worth the reward in that, based on modest projections, they stand to practically double their annual revenue from the conference by moving to the B1G, with the ACC having one of the lowest payouts of the "Power 5" conferences.
"The University of Maryland is proud of our long and storied 61-year association with the Atlantic Coast Conference," said Wallace D. Loh, president of the University of Maryland, in a release from the school. "Today's agreement helps usher in exciting new eras for both the University and the ACC. We wish the conference and our ACC university colleagues well."