Legal battle between college, sports conference becomes testy

As many Minnesota residents are aware, the Big Ten Conference (where the University of Minnesota plys its college sports trade) is set to welcome two new schools to the conference: Rutgers and Maryland. With the addition of these schools, the Big Ten will move up from a 12-team league to a 14-team league (fret not over the math involving the conference name and the number of teams in the Big Ten).

While this is supposed to be a joyous occasion for the conference and the new schools, the University of Maryland is having a less-than-enjoyable time trying to actually move conferences. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the soon-to-be-former conference of Maryland, sued the university for leaving to the tune of $52 million. That figure was apparently agreed to by Maryland as part of the ACC constitution.

But Maryland contends that the clause that stipulates the $52 million “buyout” wasn’t in the ACC constitution until the school made it clear that they were going to leave the ACC. Now the state of Maryland is countersuing the ACC for $157 million, a figure that accounts for the “massive damages” that have accumulated as a result of Maryland’s attempt to leave the ACC for the Big Ten.

Even though this is a sports story, these types of lawsuits are very commonplace in the business world (and really, the line between sports and business was blurred a long time ago). However, these lawsuits usually end in settlements, so either side of the dispute needs to be prepared for negotiation.

Source: Sports Illustrated, “Maryland-ACC suit brings business of college sports to spotlight again,” Michael McCann, Jan. 14, 2014

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