Luck

Clements

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia University has reached a settlement with the Big East Conference in civil actions in both West Virginia and Rhode Island, university officials announced Tuesday morning.

WVU will officially become a member of the Big 12 Conference in July.

"Our membership in the Big 12 offers WVU significant advantages," Athletic Director Oliver Luck said in a statement.

"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."

Luck said he could not provide details about the deal -- including its exact amount -- but 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," he said.

Last week, sources told the Charleston Daily Mail that the Big East will get $20 million from the deal.

WVU will pay $11 million of that, while the Big 12 will pay the rest, the sources said.

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 12 schools will end up contributing.

WVU President Jim Clements stressed the importance of the university's future direction Tuesday.

"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. "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 finally 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 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 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.

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