MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University and the Big East Conference are reportedly nearing a settlement, making WVU's move to the Big XII one step closer to reality.
According to the Charleston Daily Mail, the university would pay the Big East $11 million to exit the conference. Other reports say the payout could be as much as $20 million.
However, there could be other stipulations.
A source told the Daily Mail that the conference would have to add a future Big East member sooner rather than later, to take WVU's place on the conference's schedule this fall.
Boise State, which is set to join the Big East in 2013, is reportedly the leading candidate to make that move.
As for WVU, the Big XII could end up help paying a portion of the university's settlement.
Chuck Neinas, the conference's interim commissioner, has said the Big XII would ask its board of directors to help WVU if the university needed it.
WVU has already paid $2.5 million to the Big East as part of the conference's $5 million exit fee.
According to the Daily Mail, a settlement could be announced as soon as Thursday.
Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein, who ordered WVU and the Big East into non-binding mediation, scheduled a status conference for 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Rhode Island.
The lawsuit over WVU's move to the Big XII has dragged on for months now.
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 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 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.