Posted by Jerry Hinnen
West Virginia and the Big 12 have been adamant for weeks that neither the Big East's legal actions nor the inevitable snafus of last-minute scheduling will keep the Mountaineers out of their new conference digs for the 2012 season. And if the comments of Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas to the West Virginia MetroNews are any indication, the league is willing to put its money where its mouth is.
Specifically, Neinas said that if West Virginia needs some financial assistance from the Big 12 in order to pay its exit fee, the league "would talk with WVU about it."
"It would be an internal matter for our Board of Directors to determine," Neinas said. "If West Virginia makes a request, we'll take it to the board."
The exit fee is set at $5 million, but the Big East could likely demand far more to let the Mountaineers wriggle out of the league's pending lawsuit. The sum could be difficult for the Mountaineers to come up with, particularly if the program is also forced to pay damages from a potential scheduling lawsuit from Florida State. It won't help relations between the two sides that Boise State will force the league to proceed with just seven teams in 2012, either.
All the same, the cancellation of the Mountaineers' scheduled meeting with the Seminoles -- along with the private release of a 10-team schedule to the Big 12's TV partners -- is just the latest evidence that Neinas and WVU fully intend to clear whatever hurdles might stand between the Mountaineers and playing a 2012 Big 12 schedule. Neinas brushed off the threat of a legal injunction, saying that the spelling-out of the injunction's enforcement details would arrive too late to prevent WVU making the jump.
"They will be with us come July 1, 2012," Neinas said of the Mountaineers, "and we'll play the football schedule in the Big 12 Conference."
For all parties involved, that would be the cleanest, easiest resolution to the issue. But don't expect the arrival at that resolution to be remotely clean or easy.
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