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: Nov 14, 2007
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:50 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:35 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

"Guys, all of you can argue back and forth to either side about a law suit, and who will win and who will lose. The bottom line in this mess legally comes down to when the Big East officially replaces their football conference schools to at least 8 teams, and when they begin playing in the BE.  Here's why; there were only 8 football teams playing in the BE when PITT, Syracuse and WVU gave notice they were leaving.  The legal reason for having the 27 month notice is for the BE to have time to build back their conference to at least the same size before these three schools served notice they were leaving, which again is 8. So, let see what happens in the BIG EAST in the next several days on how many schools they are adding and when they intend to play in the BE. Again, once the conference reaches 8 football members, regardless if the BE goes to 12, then legally PITT, Syracuse and WVU will have legal grounds to negoiate an exit from the conference. Betcha I'm right about this !  The BE will have no legal grounds to stand on, once they get back to at least 8 football schools.  Conference Commissioner Marinatto is dreaming if he thinks he can make a "mockery" out of PITT, Syracuse and WVU, once the BE is back to at least 8 football member."

Buford, you are right about the reason forthe notice requirement.  But wrong about everything else.  WVU agreed to the bylaw change that imposed the notice requirement.  They cannot get out of it now that it is inconvenient for them.  And the number of schools playing football has no effect on this fact.

If there are enough schools to operate the conference, that might make it easier for the conference to allow the secessionists to leave early.  But it does not impose a legal obligation to do so.

No one is trying to make a mockery out of Pitt or Syracuse, who intended to live up to their responsibilities as members.  As for WVU, Olicer Luck has done a much better job of making a mockery of his employer than John Marinatto ever could.

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:29 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

"Big East spend your time and energy finding the school to replace WVU as we are gone.  10 times out of 10 my money is on Oliver Luck, he wouldn't have made the move to leave after this year if he didn't know there was nothing holding us to staying.  Big East you don't need WVU right now you need 8 Footbal playing schools to keep your BCS bid until 2014.  After 2014 you're likely to lose it regardless, why else do you think WVU Pitt and Syracuse are all leaving.  You might want to try to find 3 teams as once WVU shows that your 27 month rule doesn't hold water, Pitt and Syracuse will bust out their checkbooks and be gone too. "

10 out of 10 if it goes to a full adjusication, I would get your money, WVU_93. 

This lawsuit is without merit. 

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:22 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Add those garbage service academies, Houston, Boise, whoever you want.  Then you become Conference USA, and the last time I checked they don't have a automatic BCS berth, and neither will you.  Face it, it's over.  You will lose your BCS berth on June 01, 2014, and you will be a basketball-only conference.

Perhaps so, but until then, the conference is alive and viable with its BCS AQ status intact.  This fact has been confirmed in the press by a number of BCS officials.  So WVU would sustain NO HARM by remaining in the conference until the expiration of its 27-month notice period.

Except, of course, that Olicer Luck made promises to the Big 12 he could not deliver.

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:17 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

ncgreene, The payment was required to be submitted under the terms of the existing bylaws with the notice of withdrawal.  Otherwise the notice delivered would not have been effective.  Acceptance of the payment did not imply that WVU could leave earlier.  Just that the conference accepted the notice of withdrawal.

Saying otherwise doesn't make it so.

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:11 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

No one has said they cannot leave.  Just that they have to abide by the notice requirement they themselves proposed and voted to adopt.

The contractual obligations of the Big East to West Virginia are no different than the obligations of the conference to any other member.  The idea that somehow WVU is entitled to some form of special treatment is strange to say the least.

It will never get to a final adjudication, but on the merits WVU loses.  Period.  Endo of story.

Presuming the Big East adds the schools it wants to add in time to function for 2012, then WVU  (and Pitt and Syracuse) will likely be allowed to pay a higher exit fee and leave.  Otherwise, too bad.

Oliver Luck should not have pormised soemthing he could not deliver.

Since: Sep 28, 2010
Posted on: October 31, 2011 10:00 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

What would be most useful in this debate for everyone I think is to have copies of the BE's contractual obligations to member schools and specifically its contract with WVU.  Without that, who can say whether the lawsuit works or not and who is right/wrong in the situation - legally. 

As for the moral aspect of it - I can understand both sides.

The BE rightfully feels that WVU leaving is damaging the league and the sooner they leave the worse it is for the league.  Also, it is at least part of the contract that schools must stay the 27 months period, so they feel like they're being shafted and have the right to enforce that. 

On the other side, WVU feels that over the past 7 years the conference has gotten progressively worse, with WVU's 3 largest rivals and 5 teams total leaving (or announcing their departure) from the league.  They also feel that, in light of the Pac 12 and Big 10's moves over a year ago, it was expected that the BE leadership would act to buttress the league and not only prevent a raid from happening but strengthen its position. Instead the league sat about for a year, discussing Villanova but not acting, irresponsibly pushing away a TV deal without another, better one lined up, and didn't get moving until it had already lost 2 more members and is/was on the verge of losing more.  So, from the WVU perspective, the Big East leadership has directly caused the league value to drop significantly and thus cause financial damage to WVU and all other member institutions. 

Which side is correct? I don't know.  I feel bad for the teams being left behind, but also think they should be blaming the BE leadership rather than WVU/Pitt/SU.  Several decent to good teams: ECU, UCF, and TCU showed interest in joining the league, which would have boosted its value.  Had the leadership been more competent they would have seen the league get to 12 via adding these and another texas school for TCU.  This probably would have saved the league and made it much stronger than the ACC from many stand points.  Instead, they sat on their thumbs and watched things collapse.  Instead they are left with forced marriages for at least another year that probably won't work out well for anyone. 

Since: Aug 11, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 9:58 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

I like what you are saying here. I think this will tarnish the image of WV. This could very well cost someone their job, make the 12 look bad, and cause a possible suite to the big 12. I have heard rumors that if they do stay, they will refuse to play Boisie State. If this is true, I will have lost all respect for WV. WV is a team I want to like. But acting like a baby is no way to treat this. This will go nowhere. Insiders have reported the reason for leaving early was avoiding Boisie St. and they would not be invited unless they assured the big 12 they could play next season. They do not have a prayer. If anything also open the door wide opn to be sued. besides.....where does it say the commish has to do a good job? His performance does not legally impact a contract. The legacy of WV is forever tarnished because of this. Luck might lose his job for an embaressment like this. I am looking at their non-confrence schedules this next fews years.....opposing teams should now beware and have a bacup team.

Since: Sep 20, 2011
Posted on: October 31, 2011 9:54 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

What is the point in being held to a 27 month waiting period when the conference will implode.  If this doesn't bring the BE to the negotiating table I bet the Big XII decides that they need to extend invites to Louisville and Cincy. 

Since: Mar 23, 2009
Posted on: October 31, 2011 9:51 pm

West Virginia filing suit vs. Big East

Hopefully West Va gets shut down for the lawsuit. They knew the rules when they accepted the invtie and now they should have to be forced to abide by it. Heaven forbid anything or anyone in this world lives up to thier contracts anymore. Contracts being anything from written to just being a person of integrity and living up to your word.

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