West Virginia to leave Big East in June
West Virginia University and the Big East Conference announced a lawsuit settlement Tuesday that will see the Mountaineers officially leave the conference June 30 for the Big 12 after two decades in the league.
After announcing its intention to leave the Big East on Oct. 28, West Virginia filed a lawsuit against the conference in its own state in an attempt to leave before the league’s mandatory 27-month waiting period. The Big East filed a suit of its own in its headquarter state of Rhode Island and the parties were ordered into mediation.
Tuesday’s settlement will see the Big East receive $20 million, rather than the base $5 million exit fee required. According to ESPN, the University will pay $11 million, with the Big 12 providing the additional $9 million.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which announced their intention to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference before West Virginia but did not file litigation, will remain in the Big East for at least this upcoming season.
“This closes a chapter and opens a new one filled with exciting possibilities for WVU’s future,” West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said in a press release. “I’ve heard from Mountaineer fans across the country who have made it very clear that they are proud and honored to be heading into the Big 12.”
The 2012 Big 12 football schedule was released hours after the announcement of the settlement, with West Virginia and Texas Christian – originally slated to join the Big East this summer – on it. Instead of hosting Syracuse, Rutgers, Cincinnati and USF for Big East games in the 2012 season, the Mountaineers will welcome Baylor, Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas to Morgantown.
The Big East has not yet announced its 2012 schedule, but the seven remaining teams now have an extra open date to fill. USF added Nevada to its schedule last month to fill the date vacated by TCU’s departure.
Reports have suggested that Boise State could entertain the idea of arriving in the Big East this summer, one year ahead of schedule, but university President Bob Kustra deflected that idea last week.
“It’s too late,” he told the Idaho Statesman on Feb. 6. “I can’t imagine how anyone can pull that off. We would never want to pull it off in a fashion that dealt shabbily with our existing partners in the Mountain West. I don’t think that could ever work.”
West Virginia will have to find a new home for its men’s soccer team, which is a sport not sponsored by the Big 12, and will have to add a new men’s sport to reach league standards.
Luck said Tuesday that the Mid-American Conference or Conference USA could welcome men’s soccer and that the university has considered adding men’s tennis, golf and/or track to the athletics program.