Blog Entry

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:31 am
Posted by Chip Patterson

The ongoing legal battle between West Virginia and the Big East entered the next phase of litigation this week, with the school filing a motion to dismiss the Big East's lawsuit against the university.

[PDF: Read the 133-page motion, obtained by the Charleston Gazette]

West Virginia fired first in this legal battle, filing a lawsuit against the Big East seeking an exit before the 2012-2013 academic year. The league then responded days later with their own lawsuit against West Virginia, filed in Rhode Island Superior Court.

The motion from West Virginia, filed this week to the Rhode Island Superior Court, makes four key points as to why the suit should be dismissed. The primary claim from the school is that Rhode Island's courts don't have jurisdiction over the state of West Virginia. The language in the motion clearly ties the university to the state itself, at one point referring to themselves as "an alter ego of the State of West Virginia."

Finally, the school's lawyers make reference to the "essentially identical" suit brought against the Big East by the West Virginia Board of Governors. The motion requests that if the Big East's suit in Rhode Island is not dismissed, it at least be put on hold until the resolution of the initial action from West Virginia.

As expected, there is no bright light at the end of this legal tunnel yet. As the conference and school will likely continue to wage war in court for the foreseeable. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the clock is ticking if they want to be able to get Big 12 conference play in 2012. If the Big East wants to hold the school for the 27-month withdrawal period in the bylaws, extended legal battles is one way to spend that time.

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Since: Oct 23, 2011
Posted on: December 1, 2011 9:36 am

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

We, outsiders, can argue all we want but the key should be in the contract.  And if WVA wins its claim that is was acting as an arm of the state that contract is a public record and can be requested using the FOIA.  With that said, courts can have their judgments enforced in other courts once the court with the order establishes jurisdiction.  The key to the location of jurisdiction should be in the contract.  If the contract says all suits will be in the home jurisdiction of the Big East then it would be Rhode Island and/or in the first circuit of the federal courts.  If the contract is silent as jurisdiction; jurisdiction is where the damage occurred and/or the parties reside.  If WVA states that the Big East broke their contract by the Commissioners malfeasance than it would be again be up to Rhode Island and/or First Circuit Federal courts to hear the case.  However, if WVA states it the arm of the state then it may argue that the suit needs to occur within the courts of that state and that the harm is happening in West Virginia.  As to harm, WVA will be harmed if not let out of the contract as the Big 12 needs an additional team by the start of next year's football season.   In the end it is a disappointment –but divorces are usually not clear cut or easy.

Since: Oct 28, 2010
Posted on: December 1, 2011 8:54 am

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

The courts most certainly do have the power to enforce specific enforcement provisions of a contract. A court has broad equitable and remedial powers that go beyond mere money damages. Whether a court will choose to exercise those powers under these facts is certainly a legitimate question.

Corvallis - you are coorect that the courts do have the power to enforce specific performance. but they almost never do.  Precedence is key concept in out American legal system, along with jurisdiction.

Precedence shows a long legal history of settleing contract breach's by monetary damages; courts becsue of this only enforce specific performance when there is no other remedy that will solve the problem.  Basically, no one will force two parties to stty ina contract when they are at the point of suign each other.

Jurisdiction means even if a Rhode island court grants the BE request an issues an injunction that syas WVU must play in the Big east, they can ignore as it has no enforcability outside of Rhode Island.

Since: Jul 22, 2008
Posted on: December 1, 2011 8:16 am

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

In my opinion, all this talk about WVU breaking its contract with the Big East is a moot point right now because I feel that the Big East Conference has broken it's promise to each university's football programs in the conference to keep this conference a viable one.  The ACC has raided the conference for teams twice now taking a total of 5 football programs with it.  The last raid appears to have been instigated by ESPN after the BE turned down their first offer in negotiating a TV contact.  Funny how Pitts president played an instrumental part in those negotiations. 

To me it's as simple as this.  1.  WVU is tired of the Big East's mismanagement of it's football programs in not expanding the conference to strengthen it nor even protecting it against losing teams to other conferences.  2.  WVU is tired of being led by basketball only universities to the detriment of our own athletic programs---primarily football.  I think this was one of the primary reasons Miami, Va. Tech and BC left the conference when they did.  It's not a coincidence that the conference headquarters is in Providence RH. 

To be quite frank about this; the BE's AQ status probably wouldn't have survived past the 05 season if it wasn't for WVU's victory in the Sugar Bowl  over the SEC champ because of the national perception of the conference at that time---Was the BE really deserving of an AQ after replacing Miami, Va. Tech and BC with Cincy, Louisville, and USF?  And UConn's move up from Div. II didn't bolster that image any.  The BE got a pass then and with Louisville's eventual Orange Bowl victory of the ACC champion and WVU's  next victory over the Big 12's champ that followed seemed to have secured AQ status.  But not really though because the perception of the conference from 05 came back and is stronger than ever.  What did the Big East do in response to that perception----they added a 20 team basketball conference.  No more football members to strengthen the conference, no really good bowl lineups for the conference football programs and no real direction that they were going to improve things.  The conference commissioners have been reactionary at best and negligent in their agreement to keep the Big East football conference a viable one.  

I for one am glad that WVU's association with the Big East is going to be over now. 

Since: Nov 1, 2011
Posted on: December 1, 2011 4:03 am

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

The idea that WVU can just walk away with no regard for upholding the contract they signed is laughable. They face no damages by staying in the big east for 2 more years.

Since: Oct 26, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 9:13 pm

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

Has anybody see THE BIG EAST'S record in Law suits.They are O for October.They really don't have a leg to stand on,they Let TCU,and took there 5 million,WVU has already paid them 2.5 Ok why did the Big East Accept that.They just trying to get to a Final Exit Fee,that all.Just think of Marrinatto on The Stand,he's like the village idot.He worried about Notre Dame to much.As far as BYU goes they have to much Drama for all these TV networks,they think they are Notre Dame.I mean really who cares about BYU,nobody outside of Utah.

Since: Nov 30, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 5:49 pm

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

BYU Backer,

Why won't BYU defend themselves the way you have done in this blog. I also read a very insightful piece today by Louis E. Deaux on He points out how CBS and Comcast lied or at least mislead BYU for the last 5 years regarding the Mountain West TV awful situation that forced the Cougars out of that Conference. The Point of the blog was why would BYU want to put themselves back into that mess of a TV deal with CBS / Comcast? In fact, why isn't the Big East telling CBS to get off their high horse and smell the case they haven't noticed, teams are leaving the conference like women and children jumping into life boats on the Titanic. The best answer to all of this is for the BCS to get out of the A.Q. and bowl mess and focus on a top 12 play off. 

Since: Nov 14, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 5:34 pm

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

Is West Virginia considered a state entity? I don't know if their claim is valid, that because they are part of the state's Governmental body, and thus cannot be sued...but it is a very interesting tactic to use. I don't think it will work, but I have to say, it's a creative claim to make, and it's piqued my interest. If The Big East can demonstrate that WVU acted autonomously, as an independent body when it negotiated to join the Big XII, then WVU has no chance of a judge accepting that particular claim. However, if WVU can demonstrate that it acted as an arm of the West Virginia State Government, thus that it was the West Virginia State Government that negotiated with the Big XII, they may actually have a claim. Not a great one, but an interesting one.

Since: Dec 30, 2010
Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:59 pm

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

The courts most certainly do have the power to enforce specific enforcement provisions of a contract. A court has broad equitable and remedial powers that go beyond mere money damages. Whether a court will choose to exercise those powers under these facts is certainly a legitimate question.

You could not be more wrong.  The state of Rhode Island does not have the power to tell another state university they must play a certain team.  Get a clue Johnnie Cochran!

Since: Dec 30, 2010
Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:55 pm

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

When the BIG EAST agrees to release WVU with higher penalty fees for leaving the conference early; the BE conference will have to offer PITT and Syracuse the same deal.  So, whatever the BE agrees to do with WVU, they'll have to do the same with the two schools heading to the ACC. This will be interesting chaos for the next few weeks or months !!


Pitt and Cuse will have to file their own suit.  Just because I'm in a car crash with 3 other people and I choose to sue and the others don't, doesn't mean they get the same deal I did.



Since: Oct 12, 2011
Posted on: November 30, 2011 4:52 pm

WVU files motion to dismiss Big East suit

Don't you just love WVU
I sure do!!!

First of all, in case all you WVU bashers haven't noticed, WVU has not breached it's contract with the Big East.  They are still a member in all sports, and continue to meet all scheduling obligations.  WVU is attempting to leave the Big East without breaching the contract by having it declared null and void.  I don't see how the hypocrisy label fits for WVU in this case, and as far as citing the Rich Rod ordeal, the similarities in the two cases are a stretch to say the least.  Rich Rod was in the wrong, he actually breached his contract and then attempted to get out of paying the penalty, namely his $4 million buyout.  He lost and had to pay.  If WVU is not able to have the contract annulled they will then be forced to breach the contract and will negotiate with the Big East and pay whatever penalty is agreed upon.  No hypocrisy there, just good strategy and a smart move on WVU's part for abandoning the sinking ship otherwise known as Big East football before it's too late.

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