Blog Entry

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 9:59 am

West Virginia is filing suit against the Big East Conference so it can join the Big 12 next season, according to a document obtained by

The Big East requires its members to pay $5 million and provide 27 months notice before it may leave the conference. However, on Friday when West Virginia accepted an invitation to join the Big 12, WVU and Big 12 officials both indicated the Mountaineers would begin play in the Big 12 in 2012-13.

In an e-mail to the league’s presidents Monday, Big East commissioner John Marinatto wrote that “we have been advised by West Virginia league council that the University is filing suit against the Big East Conference today (Monday) – presumably to get relief from the withdrawal provision contained in our bylaws.”

Marinatto later issued the following statement in response to West Virginia's lawsuit:

“We are disappointed that West Virginia has adopted this strategy and cannot imagine why it believes it does not have to respect and honor the bylaws it agreed to as a member of the Big East. Based on an initial review of the lawsuit, it is clear that the allegations and claims in it are false and inaccurate. Certainly there is nothing in it that would justify WVU’s not fulfilling its obligations. To put it simply, a contract is a contract.

“Once we have reviewed the filing, we will explore all our legal options and will act vigorously to ensure that WVU lives up to all its obligations to our conference. In the meantime, this lawsuit will not interfere in any way with our ongoing efforts to strengthen and expand the Big East.”

 West Virginia is the latest school to announce it was leaving the Big East along with Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC and TCU to the Big 12.

The Big East has a 27-month notification period to leave and Marinatto has said multiple times Pittsburgh and Syracuse can’t leave for the ACC until June 1, 2014. Other league sources have said the Big East has no plans of letting West Virginia leave the league before June 1, 2014 and were surprised the Mountaineers announced they were joining the Big 12 in 2012. TCU had to pay $5 million, but was not required to provide 27 months notice because it left for the Big 12 before it actually began play in the Big East.

"We've been a good member of the Big East for a long time," President James Clements told reporters on Friday. "Our University is in discussions with the conference office."

Clements said West Virginia has already paid $2.5 million of the $5 million exit fee required to the Big East. He added the remaining amount would be paid on June 30, 2012 – on what the Mountaineers believe will be their final day in the Big East.

The Big East’s presidents and chancellors will meet in Philadelphia Tuesday. They are expected to formalize plans to add as many as six schools – Boise State, Navy, Air Force, SMU, Houston and UCF. No schools have received “official invitations” yet, but all have had multiple discussions with Marinatto in recent weeks about joining the league.

Last month, Marinatto said that if the Big East grew to 12 football schools, the league still would make Pitt and Syracuse honor the 27-month requirement "even if it meant a 14-team Big East" in 2013. That philosophy hasn't changed, league sources said, which could possibly mean a 15-team Big East, including West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, in 2013.


Since: Aug 31, 2009
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:46 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

WVU has every right to prusue through the courts if they feel they are not being treated fairly. So did Rich Rod and he lost. Maybe WVU will be forced to remain in big east for two more years or more than likely be allowed to leave after paying damages which the court will decide, or maybe this thing gets ironed out. 

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:45 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Good Luck with the lawsuit.

WVU signed a legally binding agreement.  You can negotiate an extra fee to get out of the conference early, but there's no legal grounds for getting out of it earlier.

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:31 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

This is going to be a messy divorce.

Seems that there are two outs here for the three teams leaving as soon as possible.

  1. Prior issue with Virginia Polytech Institute, Miami of Florida, Boston College leaving the conference shows some prior precedent.
  2. The incoming schools want to have access ASAP to the Big East's AQ Bowl bid.

Otherwise, it would be somewhat embarassing if one of the 3 schools were to go on a run, qualify for the BCS Championship, win the title and then leave the conference the next year.  In fact, West Virginia should have a very good team next year and would benefit from the Big East's weakened state. 

Oh well, just conjecture.

Since: Sep 17, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:31 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Isn't it ironic that West Virginia was adament about Rich Rod honoring the terms of his contract, yet sues the big East so they don't have to honor theirs.

Since: Apr 23, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:30 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Pitt and Syracuse should join the suit. Why would a spurned lover try to force an ex to stay with them for 27 months, especially when they are moving on with life with a new significant other? (Or in the Big East's case, 6 new significant others)

Since: Jan 19, 2008
Posted on: October 31, 2011 3:26 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Everything has a price. I'm sure if WVU ponies up with additional fees, probably settled in some sort of arbitration, the conference will let them go. That will be the cue that Pitt and Syracuse need to make their exits as well.

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