ACC, Maryland in NC appeals court

A North Carolina appeals court is considering whether the Atlantic Coast Conference can’t touch the University of Maryland in court as it pursues a $52 million exit penalty from the departing school.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Thursday heard Maryland’s attorneys say states enjoy sovereign immunity that protects them from lawsuits, and the school is a state institution. The ACC’s lawyers say sovereign immunity doesn’t exist across state lines or in contract claims.

A ruling could take several months. A decision could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The ACC sued Maryland in its headquarters state after the school announced its departure for the Big Ten. Maryland responded by suing the ACC in Maryland in January, calling the $52 million an illegal penalty. That case is on hold.