Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
An ACC source says the conference won't negotiate down the $50mil exit fee. We'll see.
Back when Wallace Loh voted against the increased ACC exit fee, he cited his assurance that it wouldn't hold up legally as reasoning. And at Monday's Big Ten presser, Wally reasserted that belief.
So what's the ACC have to say about that? "See us in court."
Just talked to an ACC source about $50 million exit fee: "We have no intention to negotiate with MD. We're satisfied it's legally binding."— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) November 21, 2012
Three things: one, of course they're going to say that. The ACC source knew he was talking to Thamel and that he was going public with this. He needs to retain some optimism to keep the ACC's position about the legality of their exit fee strong. For, y'know, their negotiations with Maryland about the exit fee.
Second: ask the Big East how "legally-binding" those exit fee thingamabobs are. As Mark Ennis pointed out on Twitter, West Virginia voted for a perfectly reasonable 27-month waiting period and still got out of it. Maryland voted against a punitive exit fee. I'm no lawyer, but I'm guessing that would be considered stronger ground.
Third: I won't say the fee is irrelevant from Maryland's perspective, but it's not a killer. A big donor - Gossett or Plank or someone like that - will front some, and the rest will come from the Big Ten who'll allow Maryland to pay it back with another no-interest loan. It doesn't really change the perspective of the deal, though detractors will still shout about it. The ACC's worry isn't about getting $50mil out of Maryland as much at is keeping FSU and Clemson in line. If they're not confident about that, the optics of getting it struck down in court isn't going to do a lot for the ol' "the ACC is full of nepotist, favorite-playing incompetents" storyline.
Either way, keep your eyes on it. Maryland is confident and probably should be, but it's not a done deal and is worth following.