Maryland issues subpoenas to 10 ACC schools, ESPN


From left, Maryland President Wallace D. Loh, Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany, Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan, Maryland Chairman of the Board of Regents James L. Shea and Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson at a news conference announcing Maryland’s move to the Big Ten on Nov. 19, 2012. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Ten ACC schools and various media groups have been subpoenaed in an effort by the University of Maryland to obtain documents connected to the school’s withdrawal from the league, according to court records released Friday.

“The ACC’s clear goal is to prevent any meaningful progress or resolution in this case until Maryland formally leaves the ACC in June,” Maryland wrote in a motion filed in Guilford County (N.C.) Superior Court. “Illegally and tortiously engaging in self-help, the ACC has already wrongfully withheld more than $20 million in ACC and NCAA distributions that belong to Maryland. Interest at the legal rate on the amount tortiously withheld to date by the ACC now amounts to approximately $130,000 per month.”

Following the ACC’s recent filing to stay all discovery in the ongoing legal battle over Maryland’s roughly $52 million exit payment following its announced departure to the Big Ten, the school in January and Feburary summoned documents from the following institutions: North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Duke, North Carolina State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Virginia. According to an affidavit signed by North Carolina-based attorney J. Alexander S. Barrett, only Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have thus far complied, while North Carolina State was granted extra time “only on the basis of time set forth for compliance.”

In addition, Maryland has served subpoenas to ESPN, consistent with its allegation that the television network coaxed the ACC into trying to lure Big Ten schools away. Included in the subpoenas to the 10 ACC schools — examples provided were for Duke and North Carolina State — are requests of all communication with ESPN relating to the ACC’s broadcast rights, strategy meetings involving the integration of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame into the league, and contact with any Big Ten members about joining the ACC.

Maryland has also requested documents connected to the formation of the Maryland men’s basketball team’s 2013-14 ACC schedule. For the first time since the league was founded, the Terps did not host Duke or North Carolina in College Park. At the league media day in Charlotte, ACC Commissioner John Swofford was asked how a scheduling quirk like that comes about and whether it was connected to Maryland’s pending departure.

“Through the regular scheduling process,” Swofford said then. “That’s not particularly unusual. The great thing we have in this league right now, when you look at the quality of programs, you can’t have a bad home schedule. You’re going to have quality teams and quality brands coming in wherever you are. Obviously one of the things you lose when you get bigger is some people don’t play each other as much. That’s just part of the growth.”

Via the Baltimore Sun, the ACC declined to comment on pending investigations. A member of the Maryland attorney general’s office, which is representing the school, could not be immediately reached for comment. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the University of Pittsburgh was subpoenaed in February.

According to a motion to stay discovery filed by the ACC on March 4, Maryland served the ACC 94 document requests covering a time span of 12 years in late December. Shortly thereafter, the court filing says, Maryland began serving subpoenas to the ACC schools and eight third-party media entities and subpoenas are currently pending with at least 19 separate entities seeking more than 35 categories of documents from each.

In the example subpoenas filed to Duke and North Carolina State, 47 categories of documents are requested, ranging from documents related to the ACC’s constitution to media talking points after Maryland announced its departure to the evaluation of possible new members.

This marks the latest development in an ongoing battle that begun on Nov. 26, 2012, when the ACC sued Maryland to enforce a withdrawal payment the school has said it does not plan to pay.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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