By now, most college football fans know that West Virginia University is leaving the Big East Conference to be a part of the of the Big 12 Conference expansion plans to replace the University of Missouri, which is planning to join the Southeastern Conference. By now, most fans also know the Big East has made it clear that the three programs that are leaving the conference -- Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh are also exiting and headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference -- are going to be held to a 27-month waiting period. By now, you've probably heard all the back-and-forth banter from the Big East Commissioner, John Marinatto, and those exiting and remaining programs. However, this conference realignment story just got even more interesting Monday.
According to CBSSports.com, West Virginia is filing suit against the Big East so it can bypass the 27-month mandatory waiting period and join the Big 12 next season.
"We are disappointed that West Virginia has adopted this strategy," said Marinatto in a statement reacting to the lawsuit," and cannot imagine why it believes it does not have to respect and honor the bylaws it agreed to as a member of the Big East. Based on an initial review of the lawsuit, it is clear that the allegations and claims in it are false and inaccurate. Certainly there is nothing in it that would justify WVU’s not fulfilling its obligations. To put it simply, a contract is a contract."
On Friday, when the Big 12 announced the addition of West Virginia, it also said that the Mountaineers would join the league next season, not on June 1, 2014 when the Big East bylaws say the 27-month waiting period is up. WVU is claiming that a "lack of leadership, lack of fudiciary duties by the Big East and its commissioner, and voting disparity between the football and non-football schools resulted in the Big East football conference no longer being a viable and competitive football conference," is why its filing suit.
"Nothing will stop the Mountaineers from leaving the Big East for the 2012-13 season," wrote Brian Ewart of VUHoops.com, who breaks down the suit brilliantly. "Even if the Big East were to sue them for breaching the contract, they would likely get a court to order them to play two more seasons of Big East sports. Instead, this is about how much they will have to pay. If West Virginia wins the suit, they wouldn’t pay anything, but there is more to it than that."
Ewart makes it clear, that this could get ugly and very expensive for WVU, the Big East, and possibly the Big 12 and its members -- which wouldn't be good for the Mountaineers.