When the members of the ACC agreed to increase its exit fee to more than $52 million, Maryland was one of the schools not too fond of the move. Of course that occurred before Maryland, a charter member of the ACC, decided that the financial rewards of joining the Big Ten were too much to pass up. What ensued was a lengthy legal battle, with the ACC unwilling to budge on its exit fee and Maryland unwilling to pay that much money to leave.
Friday the two sides announced that they’ve come to an agreement on the exit fee, with Maryland “paying” just under $31.4 million to the ACC. However that amount represents the money being withheld from Maryland by the ACC in lieu of their legal battle, so the settlement simply means that Maryland won’t have to give the ACC another dollar.
“I commend our Council of Presidents and specifically [University of Miami] President Donna Shalala for steering us to this resolution,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in the release. “This agreement allows everyone to fully focus their energy and efforts on prioritizing the student-athletes, especially in this significant time of change within the NCAA restructuring.
“We wish the University of Maryland well and appreciate their past contributions as we collectively look toward the future.”
Many seem to believe that the wheels have slowed down (or even stopped) when it comes to conference realignment, with the “Power Five” leagues having the members they need in order to secure their future. And for the ACC the renewed sense of security didn’t come from the raised exit fee so much as it did the grant of rights agreement that was approved in April 2013. That contract runs through the 2026-27 season, meaning that if any school were to leave the conference their media rights would be controlled by the ACC.
The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have similar grant of rights agreements in place, and the SEC is in a position where it would likely take a moment of sheer lunacy for a member to leave at this point in time.