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November 19, 2012

BOT Chair: Too early to see how Maryland move affects FSU

It's FSU-Florida week! To celebrate FSU's run at a third straight state championship we are re-opening our 30-day free promotion for new subscribers. Get full coverage of this in-state rivalry, the ACC Championship game and tons of football recruiting coverage during this key stretch.

When the ACC announced an exit fee increase from $20 million to $50 million in September, Florida State Board of Trustees Chairman Allan Bense wondered if the league's abrupt hike could hold up in court.

Thanks to Maryland's decision to leave the ACC for the Big 10, which became official on Monday, that notion will be tested soon.

Bense told Warchant.com in September that Florida State and Maryland voted against the exit fee increase to $50 million, a measure proposed in light of Notre Dame becoming a partial league member. The measure only needed nine of the league's 12 votes to pass.

"It will clearly be interesting to see if they pay the $50 million fee to exit, I guess lawyers will figure that, that's way over my pay grade," Bense told Warchant.com on Monday. "I personally thought that $20 million to $50 million, yea, that's a lot of money. I'm sure it will be tested and let's see what happens."

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh said Monday that the new dollars generated by the move to the Big 10 - a Sports Illustrated report estimates the school's revenue to jump $12 million in Year 1 - could make paying the complete the $50 million exit fee possible. But Loh also said the school plans to negotiate the fee down.

Maryland has been in the ACC since its start in 1953.

"Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland. Since our inception, they have been an outstanding member of our conference and we are sorry to see them exit," ACC Commissioner John Swofford said in release on Monday. "For the past 60 years the Atlantic Coast Conference has exhibited leadership in academics and athletics. This is our foundation and we look forward to building on it as we move forward."

As for Florida State, Bense, the former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives (2004-06), said he hasn't heard any discussion from university decision makers about whether Maryland's move could affect the future of FSU and its membership in the ACC.

"All of this (conference realignment) has sort of gone on the back burner until today," Bense said. "I don't have thoughts on that. Clearly people are talking about it but to the best of my knowledge - and of course I can't and won't talk to other trustees - I haven't seen or heard much chatter out there to move or change, but it's very early.

"I wouldn't interpret that as yes or no, but it's too early to draw any conclusions in my opinion."

In September Bense said that FSU's decision to vote against the increase was based around flexibility. Loh said Monday that Maryland had no discussion with the Big 10 about a possible move prior to his university voting against the exit fee hike.

"Don't construe (FSU's) vote against it to mean anything about anything, it's just that in my business that when you get in something you better figure out a way to get out of something," Bense said in September. "We have no desire to get out, but $50 million makes it pretty tough to do anything."

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