Report: WVU, Big East reach 'conditional' $20 million settlement

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Feb 13, 2012

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University and the Big East Conference have reached what some are calling a "conditional" settlement.

Sources told the Charleston Daily Mail late Thursday that the conference will get $20 million from the deal.

WVU will pay $11 million of that, while the Big XII Conference -- the Mountaineers' new home as of July 1 -- will pay the rest.

The university's payout would cover the Big East's $5 million exit fee -- of which WVU has already paid $2.5 million -- Boise State's own $5 million buyout fee and $1 million to match what the other Big XII schools will end up contributing.

Sources also told the Daily Mail the settlement no longer hinges on the Big East adding a future member sooner.

Last week, a source told the newspaper that the Big East would have to add one of its new members a year earlier to take WVU's place on the conference's schedule this fall.

It looked as if Boise State, which is set to join the Big East in 2013, was the leading candidate to make that move.

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 has said from the beginning that 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.

According to the Daily Mail, Big East executives have given the settlement proposal the OK, but lawyers are working on the final details.

Also on Thursday, Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein, who previously ordered WVU and the Big East into non-binding mediation, ordered that the case be continued to an "unspecified date."

That means, until both parties submit a final proposed deal to the judge, the court will act as if the lawsuit is going to trial.

An official announcement regarding the settlement could be made this week, along with the Big XII's release of this year's football schedule.

The schedule was expected to be released late last week, but the WVU lawsuit and other wranglings are reportedly holding things up.

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