West Virginia settles lawsuit, headed to Big 12

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia University announced
Tuesday it has settled a lawsuit with the Big East for an
unspecified amount, clearing the way for the Mountaineers to join
the Big 12 in July.
     Athletic Director Oliver Luck said the terms of the deal were
confidential and WVU wouldn't release details. But Luck said no
state, taxpayer, tuition or other academic dollars will be used in
the settlement.
     A person familiar with the agreement said the settlement totaled
$20 million but did not know how much money would come from the
university and how much the Big 12 may contribute. The person spoke
on condition of anonymity because financial terms were not being
made in the announcement of the agreement.
     Luck said the funding will come only from private sources and
money that athletics raised independently.
     WVU has already paid half of the required $5 million exit fee to
the Big East.
     Luck planned a news conference to discuss the deal later Tuesday
     WVU sued the Big East in Monongalia County Circuit Court in
Morgantown in November, challenging its bylaws in a bid to join the
Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season.
     The Big East countersued in Rhode Island four days later,
arguing that WVU had breached its contract with the conference and
should remain in the Big East for another two years as required in
the bylaws. In late December, the judge there denied WVU's motion
to dismiss.
     Luck said the Big 12 gives WVU ``significant advantages' over
the Big East.
     ``The Big 12 is a strong and vibrant conference academically and
athletically,' he said in a statement. ``We look forward to the
potential academic and athletic partnerships and financial
opportunities that membership in the Big 12 offers.'
     WVU President James Clements called the partnership with the Big
12 ``an investment in WVU's future.'
     Big East Commissioner John Marinatto had repeatedly said West
Virginia would not be allowed to leave until the 2014 football
     But in a statement Tuesday, Marinatto said the board of
directors voted to terminate WVU's membership in the conference as
of June 30. Marinatto said the board agreed to the deal because WVU
was willing to drop its lawsuit and pay an exit fee ``well in
excess of that required by the bylaws.'
     He said WVU has agreed to have the West Virginia court enter a
judgment that declares the Big East's bylaws ``valid and
     With its recent additions, Marinatto said, ``the future for the
Big East Conference has never been brighter.'
     Boise State, the University of Central Florida, the University
of Houston, the University of Memphis, San Diego State University,
Southern Methodist University and the United States Naval Academy
have all recently joined the conference.
     While the legal fight played out, the Big 12 was put in limbo,
unable to release a football schedule for next season. Now the
WVU's membership for 2012 is secured, that schedule should be out
     The Big East still has work to do to figure out how next season
will play out. Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced in September they
are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference, but have said they
will not challenge the Big East's notification rules.
     That leaves the Big East with seven football teams for 2012 and
a hole in the schedule that could leave its remaining members
scrambling to find a game so late unless one of its future
members can be convinced to join a year early.
     Boise State, which is joining the Big East in football only, has
been approached about leaving the Mountain West early.

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