The North Carolina Court of Appeals is allowing a lawsuit to proceed in which the Atlantic Coast Conference seeks to compel the University of Maryland to pay a $52 million exit fee for leaving the conference next year.
Maryland had argued that there was no authority for a court in another state to permit the suit to continue.
But the ACC, which is based in North Carolina, countered that Maryland was bound by the equivalent of a contract -- the ACC constitution.
“The ACC alleges that the University of Maryland’s withdrawal from the ACC subjects them to a mandatory withdrawal payment in the amount of $52,266,342,” a three-judge appeals court panel said in its decision today.
The court upheld a lower court’s rejection of Maryland’s bid to dismiss the suit.
The ACC filed the suit on Nov. 26, 2012. The suit was on hold while the appeals court weighed Maryland’s arguments.
Maryland’s attorney general’s office released a brief statement after today’s decision:
“We are reviewing the North Carolina appeals court decision and Maryland is considering its options,” it said.
After the ACC filed suit, Maryland filed its own case in Prince George’s County alleging that the exit fee is anti-competitive and should not be enforced. That suit was stayed pending the outcome of the North Carolina case.