Baltimore Sun reporters Jeff Barker and Don Markus and editor Matt Bracken weigh in on the three biggest topics of the past week in Maryland sports.
What is the central issue in the legal skirmishes between Maryland and the Atlantic Coast Conference as the school prepares to join the Big Ten next year?
Jeff Barker: There’s an issue of jurisdiction. The ACC says North Carolina – not Maryland – is the proper venue to air the dispute. Maryland disagrees. There are suits ongoing in both states.
But the debate centers on the ACC's $52 million exit fee. Here are three points of contention:
** Is it fair? The university says it's anti-competitive, not allowing the open market to work as it should. The ACC says the fee has been important in keeping the conference stable and that Maryland has made no valid antitrust claim against it under state law.
** Is it enforceable? Maryland says the fee was imposed last year without sufficient notice given to members. The ACC says the member presidents approved it, and that it is binding.
** Has it been applied too soon? Maryland says it has not formally given notice to the ACC that the school is leaving for the Big Ten, and that it would be premature for the ACC to begin collecting any withdrawal fee.
Other schools and conferences will be watching how the courts treat the exit fee.
Says Maryland: “This is the highest penalty ever assessed … (the) largest penalty in the history of intercollegiate athletics.”
Will Maryland be playing Navy in football and Georgetown in men’s basketball any time soon?
Don Markus: The short answer is probably no. With the Terps going to the Big Ten in 2014, and the league itself going to nine games in 2016, there’s really no room on Maryland’s schedule. The Midshipmen are expected to join the newly named American Athletic Conference in 2015, but who knows how many of those former Big East teams will have jumped ship by then?
That doesn’t mean the two schools shouldn’t try to figure out a way to meet, at least every two or three years. Instead of Maryland playing a South Florida, which it will do next season, or even a Texas, which was added for a home-and-home before the Terps joined the Big Ten, why not meet Navy at M&T; Bank Stadium or FedEx Field?
I thought about this when the Terps did a Coaches Caravan cruise Thursday night out of City Dock in Annapolis. The Military Bowl is moving to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in December, meaning that the Terps could wind up there as the No. 8 ACC bowl invite. The Midshipmen, as long as they win at least six games, are contracted to play elsewhere.
Sailing on the Severn River – right past the Naval Academy – might have stirred the conversation in that direction because a couple of fans asked Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson about playing Navy. Anderson said he has spoken with his counterparts in Annapolis. I hope the discussions are serious, because Maryland needs a rivalry game going forward.
The Big Ten announced last week its 2014 schedule and for now – and probably the foreseeable future – Maryland’s regular-season finale is scheduled against Rutgers. I’m not sure how you feel, but I don’t exactly see that firing up the masses to come out to Byrd Stadium on the last Saturday in November. The feeling up in New Jersey is probably mutual.
Navy would be different, but the Midshipmen don’t have to worry about a rivalry game in their new league. They’ve already worked it out that they will finish the regular season against Army and I’m sure they will continue playing Air Force as well. Regardless of how the new AAC works out for Navy, its rivalry games are in place.
Getting to play Georgetown might be easier, but certainly not easy. Since the flap between the two schools caused Anderson to announce that he was not going to let the Terps play the Hoyas in any sports if they couldn’t play against each other in basketball, there’s been some thawing in the relationship.
Anderson mentioned Thursday night that the Hoyas’ field hockey team will be practicing and playing at Maryland this season while Georgetown’s field is being refurbished. But he also admitted that there is one rather large obstacle – alluding to the size of former men’s coach John Thompson – in the discussions about basketball going any further.
I think that as time goes on, the Terps could try to reach out to Thompson and forge some sort of truce. Heck, even he and Lefty Driesell buried the hatchet after all those years, with Thompson reportedly working behind the scenes to get Driesell more serious consideration for the Naismith Hall of Fame. I can see the same thing happening for hoops.
The Terps certainly need a local basketball rivalry to get their fans excited, and the Hoyas would be the perfect choice. Maryland plays at the Verizon Center this season against George Washington in the BB&T; Classic, something Mark Turgeon is doing begrudgingly. Why not play Georgetown instead and have a Kentucky-Louisville thing going every year?
Maryland will certainly develop rivalries in the Big Ten as the years go on, but it’s going to take time. The networks love rivalry games, so why not take the initiative and get Navy on the football schedule every few years and Georgetown basketball every year, or every other year to start. It makes perfect sense.
Now that the NBA draft lottery is set, where might Alex Len land?
Matt Bracken: The sophomore center from the Ukraine is poised to become Maryland’s first lottery pick since Chris Wilcox went to the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 8 pick in the 2002 NBA draft. Here’s a quick look at where several national media outlets project Len to be picked.
** DraftExpress.com – Len to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 6
** NBADraft.net – Len to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 9
** CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman – Len to the Charlotte Bobcats at No. 4
The big man from the Ukraine is incredibly skilled for a 7-footer, and Michael Jordan's franchise is in desperate need of a center who can score in the post.
** SI.com’s Chris Mannix – Len to the Portland Trailblazers at No. 10
The Blazers need a starting center, and Len oozes potential. He's a physical 5-man who rebounds well, protects the paint (2.1 blocks per game) and can play with his back to the basket. A stress fracture in his left ankle will keep him out of individual workouts. That could hurt his stock, as teams would like to see signs of a diverse offensive game. But that could work well for Portland, which needs some muscle alongside LaMarcus Aldridge.
** Yahoo Sports – Len to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 6
Len is a big, athletic two-way center but is also injured, coming off ankle surgery. However, it does sound like there’s a good chance he’ll be ready for the start of the season. The Hornets have Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson at power forward, while Greivis Vasquez has the inside track for another season at point guard, and Eric Gordon is the starting shooting guard as long as he’s healthy. They could easily be looking for another SG option here, and would also welcome a replacement for Robin Lopez at center, or a small forward other than Al-Farouq Aminu. If any of the previously mentioned players are still on the board at No. 6, I could see the Pelicans taking Porter, Bennett or Oladipo here. But if they’re all gone, Len makes a lot of sense.
** NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper – Len to the Portland Trailblazers at No. 10
Expect the Blazers, already playing a lot of kids and in position for a playoff push, to explore trade possibilities to add a veteran or maybe multiple players for much-needed depth.
** Sporting News’ Sean Deveney – Len to the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 9
Len didn’t show much in his season at Maryland, but he played more of a defensive role for the Terps. The Wolves have to guard against Nikola Pekovic’s free agency, as well as his frequent injuries.