The new exit fee, which amounts to about three times the annual revenue dispersed to each conference team, would present a substantial financial roadblock should the University of Maryland move from the ACC to the Big Ten. The school has had serious talks with the Big Ten about such a move.
Previously, the ACC’s exit fee was around $20 million. Maryland will also need to give the ACC 10 months’ notice before leaving the conference.
How Maryland plans to pay that exit fee figures to elicit concern from the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents, who will be briefed on the situation late Sunday afternoon on a conference call with Maryland President Wallace Loh before voting at a closed-door meeting Monday morning, according to multiple sources.
One ACC athletics director, who like others contacted for this story requested anonymity because of the situation’s sensitivity, speculated that Maryland could receive financial help from the Big Ten to help alleviate the exit-fee burden. Another potential scenario brought up by the individual involves Maryland and the ACC settling out of court for less than $50 million.
In September, Maryland University President Wallace Loh told The Post that he voted against the exit fee increase based on “legal and philosophical grounds,” citing his belief that, if necessary, a court would find the fee illegal.
“The law says that when you have liquidated damages, and in advance you anticipate a breaching of the contract, we will decide what the damages will be,” Loh said then. “You talk about damages, not penalties, and it has to be a reasonable estimate. That’s the law. We live in a free economy. We want people to move freely in and out of relationships. That’s the philosophical principle. What constitutes reasonable? That’s for a court to decide.
“But if the damages are so huge that it prevents the mobility, the free movement of people, then I think it’s not good for society. Others may not be looking at it from this principle, and that’s their prerogative.”
Multiple ACC athletic directors contacted by The Post were unsure about the timing of the new exit fee’s implementation, citing only a widespread impression that it was immediate, given that only university presidents were present for the vote.
One athletic director said the rest of ACC was blindsided by the news, and talks between Maryland and the rest of the conference have been minimal.
“It’s a surprise,” the individual said. “No one anticipated this. I think it’s fair to assume that everyone is very surprised by it. The fact that there’s been minimal communication at this point with Maryland is an indication, probably, of the direction that it’s going.”