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Conference Realignment: West Virginia Sues Big East

When it became clear that West Virginia was leaving the Big East for the Big 12 last week, WVU sent $2.5 million of its $5 million exit fee to the Big East, in what looked like a gesture of goodwill that would ease negotiations as WVU attempted to buy its way out of the Big East’s 27-month notification and start Big 12 play in 2012-13.

It looks like there isn’t much goodwill left, however, as WVU is suing the Big East, citing “ineffective leadership and breach of fiduciary duties” by the conference to its football schools. The departures of Syracuse, Pitt and TCU resulted in WVU and the other football schools being subject to the whims of the conference’s non-football schools, who for some reason get to vote on football matters. WVU is arguing that the Big East should have protected its football schools’ interests after Pitt, Syracuse and TCU left, but it did not do so. As a result, West Virginia says, the Big East is no longer “viable” as a football conference.

WVU argues that the Big East had a responsibility to maintain an even balance between football and non-football schools and to help the Big East maintain its status as a good football conference. After the departures of three of its schools, WVU says, it did not do that. Also, the Big East let TCU leave immediately without the 27-month waiting period, and WVU should be given the same privilege. Therefore, the 27-month wait should be void, and West Virginia should be allowed to leave right away.

There’s a more thorough breakdown at the link above, but that’s what I took from it. We’ll see how things shake out.

For more on West Virginia, check out the Smoking Musket, which argues that the lawsuit is merely a ploy to expedite negotiations of WVU's buyout from the conference.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.