One aspect of conference realignment that tends to get overlooked is what happens in the courtroom. More often than not such moves result in dueling lawsuits with the two parties eventually coming to some kind of resolution.
When Maryland announced its decision to leave the ACC for the Big Ten, the ACC responded by filing a lawsuit in a North Carolina court to ensure that they’ll receive the full exit fee (in upwards of nearly $53 million) they expect from the school.
Maryland responded by filing its own suit in a Prince George’s County (Md.) court, and on Friday the judge presiding over the case issued a ruling that likely benefits the ACC.
Judge John Paul Davey dismissed a small portion of Maryland’s suit, accepting the conference’s argument that both suits “should not proceed simultaneously because they were too similar to be treated independently.”
Davey stayed the rest of Maryland’s suit pending the outcome of the North Carolina case, in which preliminary motions have been filed.
“The decision of the North Carolina Court and the decision by this Court could be similar to one another, could directly compete with one another, and/or could leave unresolved issues,” the judge said in a 36-page opinion.
“Permitting both matters to proceed simultaneously plainly risks inconsistent and/or competing determinations of fact and law, an outcome this Court seeks to avoid,” his opinion said.
Three of the four counts remain, with the lone count dismissed focusing on Maryland’s claim that its “economic and competitive standing” was harmed by leaving the ACC. Davey stated in court according to Jeff Barker of the Baltimore Sun that the school publicly stated that its standing would be enhanced by the move to the Big Ten.
For all the posturing that occurs in conference realignment, these issued tend to get worked out in the end because it does no one any good to delay the inevitable. With Maryland being the first school to leave the ACC in this current era, maybe the ACC was attempting to use the school as an example to its remaining members when it filed last year.
But with the grant of rights agreement the remaining ACC schools agreed to sign back in April, the conference’s future is far more secure.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.