MORGANTOWN – Details of West Virginia University’s $20 million agreement with its now former conference, the Big East, are emerging.
On Tuesday, WVU officials announced the university reached a settlement with the conference in civil actions in both West Virginia and Rhode Island.
WVU will officially become a member of the Big 12 Conference July 1.
Though the settlement agreement does not reveal the exact amount of the deal, sources told the Charleston Daily Mail Wednesday that the Big East will, indeed, receive $20 million.
According to the newspaper, WVU will pay $10 million and the Big 12 will pay the other $10 million. Half of the Big 12′s contribution is considered a grant. The other half is loan. However, WVU won’t have to start paying its new conference back until 2016.
The university has already paid half of the Big East exit fee — $2.5 million — so it still owes $7.5 million. Under the settlement agreement, that amount must be paid by wire transfer come Friday.
However, the Daily Mail’s sources said that will be covered by the revenue it earned as a Big East member in 2011-12.
Among other details of the 10-page settlement, WVU agreed to use its “reasonable best efforts” to help other Big East members to schedule additional football games for the 2012-13 season.
In particular, if the University of Pittsburgh or Syracuse University — who are scheduled to leave the Big East in 2014 for the Atlantic Coast Conference — would make such a request on or before Wednesday, WVU agreed to, again, use its “reasonable best efforts” to help the two universities schedule a game with a Big 12 member for the 2012-13 season.
That is, provided that a Big 12 member can make such an accommodation or if another school announces it is joining the Big East for football for the 2012-13 season.
“Then WVU shall not be required to take any such reasonable steps to help the University of Pittsburgh or Syracuse University schedule a game with a Big 12 member,” the deal states.
Also under the agreement, if the university’s revenue distribution is determined to be greater than the forecasted amount, then the Big East will pay WVU the excess.
If the revenue distribution is less than the forecasted amount, then WVU will pay the Big East the shortfall.
Sources told the Daily Mail this week that the university’s athletic department expects to make more than $7.5 million in conference revenue from 2011-12 — possibly $1.5 million more.
According to WVU’s deal with the Big East, both parties also agreed not to make any “disparaging statements” about each other.
Each also agreed to bear its own costs and expenses in connection with the negotiations and drafting of the agreement.
University officials, including Athletic Director Oliver Luck, have said they cannot publicly comment on the specifics of the deal.
However, they have stressed that no state or taxpayer funds, or money from tuition or other academic support, will be used to pay the settlement.
Any funding will come from “private sources” and “independently generated athletic revenues,” they said this week.
“Our membership in the Big 12 offers WVU significant advantages,” Luck said in a statement Tuesday.
“The Big 12 is a strong and vibrant conference academically and athletically. We look forward to the potential academic and athletic partnerships and financial opportunities that membership in the Big 12 offers.”
WVU President Jim Clements stressed the importance of the university’s future direction.
“We are in great company in the Big 12, joining a group of world-class research universities — many of them large public land-grant flagship institutions like WVU,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
“These schools have quality academics, research, athletic programs, winning traditions and loyal, passionate fans.”
He added, “Our partnership with the Big 12 is an investment in WVU’s future. We’re looking forward to the tremendous opportunities it presents — all across our university.”
The lawsuit over WVU’s move to the Big 12 dragged on for months before being settled out of court.
The university, which has been a member of the Big East since 1991, announced it was switching conferences on Oct. 28.
Shortly after, Big East Commissioner John Marinatto said the conference intended to hold the university to a conference bylaw that requires an exiting school to give at least 27 months notice of its departure from the conference.
WVU then filed its lawsuit Oct. 31, asking Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Russell Clawges to void the Big East conference rules and allow the university to go ahead and join the Big 12 to begin play in 2012.
The university said from the beginning that it intended to leave the Big East June 30 and join the Big 12 July 1.
WVU cited the exits of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC, and Texas Christian University’s move to the Big 12 — even before it became an official member of the Big East — as examples of how the Big East has deteriorated as a football conference.
“As the Big East, in less than two months, had denigrated into a non-major football conference whose continued existence is in serious jeopardy, WVU had no choice but to accept the Big 12′s offer,” WVU wrote in its original complaint.
“The denigration of the Big East football conference is a direct and proximate result of ineffective leadership and breach of fiduciary duties to the football schools by the Big East Conference and its commissioner.”
Four days after WVU filed its lawsuit in West Virginia, the Big East countersued in Rhode Island, the conference’s headquarters.
“This closes a chapter and opens a new one filled with exciting possibilities for WVU’s future,” Luck said of the settlement.