Clawges

MORGANTOWN - A Monongalia County Circuit Court judge has agreed to extend certain deadlines in West Virginia University's lawsuit against the Big East Conference.

On Monday, Judge Russell Clawges approved a request by the Big East to push back a deadline by which the conference must file and serve its answer to WVU's first amended complaint and responses to the university's discovery requests.

According to the court's Jan. 9 order, the Big East's answer and responses were due Monday.

However, the conference requested -- and WVU consented -- to an extension until Feb. 17.

Last week, Clawges filed an order denying the Big East's motion to stay or dismiss WVU's lawsuit.

The judge said he will not stay the university's lawsuit while the conference's own lawsuit plays out in a Rhode Island court.

"This Court does not believe staying this proceeding until a decision in the Courts of Rhode Island will promote the interests of justice," Clawges wrote in his six-page order.

"This action was filed first and a Scheduling Order entered before any significant proceeding occurred in the Rhode Island Court. This matter is scheduled for trial and no trial is scheduled in Rhode Island."

WVU filed the lawsuit in hopes of being able to move to its new home, the Big XII, more quickly.

On Friday, the university submitted six notices of deposition to the Monongalia Circuit Court.

WVU says it will be taking videotaped depositions of five different Big East university presidents and one conference official "at a date and location to be announced."

They include:

- Gregory H. Williams, president of University of Cincinnati and a member of the Big East's Board of Directors;

- Susan Herbst, president of University of Connecticut and a member of the Big East's Board of Directors;

- James R. Ramsey, president of University of Louisville and member of the Big East's Board of Directors;

- Richard L. McCormick, president of Rutgers University and member of the Big East's Board of Directors;

- Judy Genshaft, president of University of South Florida and member of the Big East's Board of Directors; and

- Nicholas V. Carparelli Jr., senior associate commissioner (football and marketing) for the Big East.

WVU announced its move to the Big XII 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 Clawges to void the Big East conference rules and allow the university to go ahead and join the Big XII to begin play in 2012.

The university says it intends to leave the Big East June 30 and join the Big XII July 1.

WVU cites the exits of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Texas Christian University's move to the Big XII -- 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 XII's offer," WVU wrote in its 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.

A Rhode Island judge has already denied WVU's request to dismiss the Big East's lawsuit.

WVU argued that the Rhode Island court did not have the authority to decide the matter, and that it should be heard in West Virginia, where the first civil lawsuit was filed.

The university also claimed it couldn't be sued in Rhode Island because it has sovereign immunity as an agency of the state of West Virginia, and that it was not properly notified of the conference's lawsuit.

On Dec. 27, Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein rejected all of WVU's arguments for dismissal.

He has since ordered WVU and the Big East into non-binding mediation and has set a status conference for Thursday.

Meanwhile, the trial in West Virginia is set for June.

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