WVU Settles Lawsuits with Big East; Conference Schedule Released

By: The Associated Press, WSAZ News Staff Email
By: The Associated Press, WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 2/14/12 @ 11:15 a.m. .
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ) – WVU will open its Big 12 Conference schedule at home against Baylor on September 29, according to the conference website.

The Big 12 released the schedule about an hour after WVU announced it had settled a lawsuit with the Big East for an unspecified amount, clearing the way for the Mountaineers to join the Big 12 in July.

Here is the full non-conference and conference schedule.

September 1 Marshall
September 15 James Madison @ Landover, Md.
September 22 Maryland
September 29 Baylor
October 6 at Texas
October 13 at Texas Tech
October 20 Kansas State
November 3 TCU
November 10 at Oklahoma State
November 17 Oklahoma
November 24 at Iowa State
December 1 Kansas



UPDATE 2/14/12 @ 10:14 a.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ/AP) -- WVU announced Tuesday morning it has reached a settlement with the Big East Conference in two lawsuits.

The agreement allows the university to begin full membership in the Big 12 Conference in July.

The lawsuits challenged when WVU could leave the Big East for the Big 12.

Athletic Director Oliver Luck said the agreement prohibits discussion of the details, but stressed that no state or taxpayer funds, tuition or academic support monies will be used to pay the settlement. Any settlement funding transferred, according to Luck, will come from private sources and independently generated athletic revenues.

A person familiar with the agreement said the settlement totaled $20 million but did not know how much money would come from the university and how much the Big 12 may contribute.

WVU accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 in late October.

Then in November , WVU sued the Big East in Monongalia County Circuit Court challenging its bylaws in a bid to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season.

The Big East countersued in Rhode Island four days later,
arguing that WVU had breached its contract with the conference and should remain in the Big East for another two years as required in the bylaws. In late December, the judge there denied WVU's motion to dismiss.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto repeatedly said West
Virginia would not be allowed to leave until the 2014 football
season.

“Our membership in the Big 12 offers WVU significant advantages,” said Luck. “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."

WVU President Jim Clements stressed the importance of the University’s future direction.

"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,” Clements said. “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."

While the legal fight played out, the Big 12 was put in limbo,
unable to release a football schedule for next season. Now the
WVU's membership for 2012 is secured, that schedule should be out soon.

The Big East still has work to do to figure out how next season
will play out. Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced in September they are leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference, but have said they will not challenge the Big East's notification rules.

Six schools over the last two and a half months have signed up
to join the Big East in 2013.

That leaves the Big East with seven football teams for 2012 and
a hole in the schedule that could leave its remaining members
scrambling to find a game so late - unless one of its future
members can be convinced to join a year early.

Boise State, which is joining the Big East in football only, has
been approached about leaving the Mountain West early.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



UPDATE 2/1/12 @ 1:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A judge has refused to put a West Virginia University's lawsuit against the Big East on hold while the conference's countersuit plays out in Rhode Island, saying he does not believe it will serve the interests of justice.

In a ruling issued Tuesday, Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Russell Clawges said WVU's lawsuit was filed first and is set for trial, while no trial is scheduled in Rhode Island.

Clawges also denied the Big East's request to dismiss WVU's lawsuit, which argued that there is a more convenient forum for the litigation. He said the Big East's bylaws do not contain provisions addressing where disputes should be resolved.

"Interestingly, the Big East is a corporation formed in the District of Columbia and the parties contend the District of Columbia law applies to the resolution of the disputes between the parties," Clawges wrote. "Neither party is contending that the District of Columbia is the appropriate forum for this action, although it would at least provide both parties with a neutral court, as would the Madison Square Garden, I suppose."

Seth Hayes, a lawyer for WVU, said the plaintiff's attorneys did not see the ruling until Wednesday morning and could not comment. Benjamin Block, an attorney for the Big East, did not immediately return a telephone message Wednesday seeking comment.

WVU is seeking to speed up its exit from the Big East and join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season. Its lawsuit, filed in November, contends that the conference violated its responsibility to members by failing to balance the number of football-playing and non-football playing schools.

The Big East counter sued in Rhode Island four days later. The league claims WVU breached its contract with the conference and should remain in the Big East for about two more years, as required in the bylaws.

Clawges said there will not be unreasonable duplication or "proliferation of litigation" if WVU's case proceeds in West Virginia. The trial is set for June 25.

"Big East has caused an unreasonable duplication of litigation by filing suit in Rhode Island after this action was filed in West Virginia. There is no reason all claims of the parties against each other cannot be resolved in one forum," the judge wrote.

In December, a Rhode Island judge denied WVU's request to dismiss the Big East's lawsuit. He has since ordered the parties into non-binding mediation and scheduled a status conference for Feb. 9.



UPDATE 12/27/11
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A Rhode Island judge has denied a request by West Virginia University to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Big East conference over the university's bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12.

Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein issued his decision on Tuesday.

The conference's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order that West Virginia stay in the conference for 27 months.

West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 in October and hopes to join in time for the 2012 football season.

Since then the school and Big East have each sued the other and filed motions to dismiss the other's lawsuits. A West Virginia judge earlier this month refused to dismiss a university lawsuit against the Big East.



UPDATE 12/19/11 @ 3:30 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- A judge has denied a motion to dismiss a West Virginia University lawsuit aimed at speeding up its departure from the Big East, allowing evidence collection to begin.

But Monongalia County Circuit Court Judge Russell Clawges says he wants more time to consider a second Big East motion that the case be put on hold while a similar lawsuit plays out in Rhode Island.

Clawges told lawyers after a hearing Monday that he'll likely rule on that issue by Jan. 1.

WVU sued the Big East last month, challenging the conference's bylaws in a bid to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season. The Big East countersued in Rhode Island four days later.

The Big East wants WVU to remain in the conference for 27 months.



UPDATE 12/19/11 @ 7:30 a.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Lawyers for West Virginia University and the Big East are due back in court on the conference's motion to dismiss the university's lawsuit.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday afternoon in Monongalia County Circuit Court.

WVU sued the Big East last month, challenging the conference's bylaws in a bid to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 football season. The Big East countersued in Rhode Island four days later.

The Big East wants WVU to remain in the conference for 27 months. The Big East contends that if Judge Russell Clawges doesn't dismiss the case, he should put it on hold while the other lawsuit plays out in Rhode Island.



UPDATE 12/16/11 @ 12:10 p.m.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Lawyers for West Virginia University have asked a Rhode Island judge to dismiss a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by the Big East conference after the university sued the conference in a bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12.

Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein says he hopes to rule on the motion next week.

The university says the court lacks jurisdiction over WVU. It says the Big East suit is an attempt to sidestep a lawsuit the university filed in West Virginia. The athletic conference is headquartered in Providence.

The conference's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order that West Virginia stay in the conference for 27 months.

West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 last month and wants to join for the 2012 season.



UPDATE 12/16/11 @ 9:45 a.m.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Lawyers for the University of West Virginia plan to ask a Rhode Island judge to dismiss a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by the Big East after the university sued the conference in a bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12.

A hearing in the lawsuit is scheduled for Friday in Providence County Superior Court.

The university says the court lacks jurisdiction over WVU. It says the Big East suit is an attempt to sidestep a lawsuit the university filed in West Virginia. The athletic conference is headquartered in Providence.

The conference's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order that West Virginia stay in the conference for 27 months.

West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 last month and wants to join for the 2012 season.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



UPDATE 12/9/11 @ 9:45 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia University wants a judge to keep its lawsuit against the Big East alive, calling a motion to dismiss the case a poorly veiled effort by the Big East to pick its own jurisdiction.

WVU sued in Monongalia County Circuit Court, challenging conference bylaws in a bid to depart and join the Big 12 in 2012. The Big East countersued in Rhode Island days later.

On Monday, the Big East asked the court to dismiss the West Virginia case, saying WVU has no legal foundation to challenge the rules it helped draft.

WVU's response late Friday says that both cases are arguing breach of contract.

It claims the Big East just wants to have its case heard in Rhode Island because it believes it might be better served there.



UPDATE 12/5/11
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- The Big East says West Virginia University has no legal foundation to challenge conference bylaws, and it wants a judge to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at speeding the Mountaineers' departure for the Big 12.

WVU wants to quit the conference immediately rather than waiting 27 months. It says the Big East violated its fiduciary responsibility to members by failing to balance the number of football-playing and non-football schools

Big East lawyers say in a motion filed late Monday in a Morgantown court that the bylaws have no such responsibility, so WVU has no foundation for trying to invalidate them. The league also says its acceptance of half the required $5 million exit fee doesn't mean it accepts WVU's departure.

WVU will respond in filings by Friday.



UPDATE 12/1/11 @ 11:29 a.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- The Big East will seek dismissal of a West Virginia University lawsuit aimed at invalidating conference bylaws and speeding up the Mountaineers' departure.

Attorney Benjamin Block says he'll file the motion to dismiss Monday in Monongalia County Circuit Court.

The Big East wants Judge Russell Clawges to kill the case or put it on hold while a parallel lawsuit plays out in Rhode Island.

WVU attorney Stephen LeCagnin says West Virginia wants the case resolved by June 30. The Mountaineers need to know if they'll be forced to remain in the Big East or can go to the Big 12 in 2012.

WVU argues it should be allowed to quit now because the Big East breached its fiduciary duty by failing to maintain a balance between football-playing and non-football members.



UPDATE 11/30/11 @ 10:30 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia is seeking to dismiss a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by the Big East after the university sued the conference in a bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12.

West Virginia filed a motion Tuesday in Providence County Superior Court in Rhode Island. A clerk said Wednesday a hearing date hasn't been set.

The motion says the court lacks jurisdiction over WVU and the university has sovereign immunity from lawsuits as an agency of the state of West Virginia. It also says WVU filed a lawsuit involving similar facts in Monongalia County four days before the conference's suit.

"The Big East's hasty filing is an entirely unwarranted attempt to sidestep the jurisdiction of the West Virginia Circuit Court," the motion said.

It said the state of West Virginia has "an immediate and compelling interest" in the dispute's outcome.

The conference's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order that West Virginia stay in the conference for 27 months. Big East Commissioner John Marinatto noted in the lawsuit that West Virginia helped construct the bylaws and formally agreed to them.

A Big East spokesman declined comment Wednesday on the motion.

West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 last month and wants to join for the 2012 season. The university filed a lawsuit Oct. 31 claiming the conference breached its fiduciary duty to West Virginia by failing to maintain a balance between football-playing and non-football members.

West Virginia has already sent half of the required $5 million exit fee to the Big East. The university alleged that by accepting the down payment on the exit fee, the Big East agreed to West Virginia's immediate withdrawal.

The Big East has yet to respond to WVU's lawsuit, according to the Monongalia County Circuit Clerk's Office in Morgantown. A status conference in that case is set for Thursday before Judge Russell Clawges.



UPDATE 11/4/11 @ 3 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- The Big East has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against West Virginia, four days after the university sued the conference in a bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12.

The conference said the lawsuit was filed Friday in Rhode Island Superior Court seeking unspecified damages along with an order requiring West Virginia to stay put for 27 months in compliance with Big East bylaws.

A spokesman for West Virginia didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 last week and wants to join for the 2012 season. The university filed a lawsuit Monday in Monongalia County Circuit Court. It seeks to declare the Big East bylaws invalid.



UPDATE 11/2/11
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- A spokesman for the Big 12 says West Virginia's membership in the conference isn't conditional on the university getting an early release from the Big East after all.

Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas had said at a welcome reception Tuesday in Morgantown that a 10th member was needed for next season to fulfill the conference's television commitments.

On Wednesday, Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda released a statement saying the Mountaineers' membership "is not contingent upon (them) joining the Conference for the 2012-13 season." He did not elaborate.

The Big East has said it plans to keep West Virginia from leaving for 27 months under the league's bylaws. West Virginia filed a lawsuit against the Big East on Monday, seeking to declare the bylaws invalid.



UPDATE 11/11
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas says he expects West Virginia to start play in the
conference next season despite the Big East's attempts to keep the university from a quick exit.

Neinas attended a reception in Morgantown officially welcoming the Mountaineers into the Big 12 on Tuesday. A day earlier, the university sued the Big East, seeking to clear the way for it to start Big 12 play next fall. The Big East has said it plans to keep West Virginia for two more years

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck and university
President James Clements declined comment on the lawsuit. Neinas says he's not concerned about the lawsuit because he has confidence in Luck and Clements.



UPDATE 10/31/11
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia University has filed a lawsuit seeking immediate withdrawal from the Big East Conference so it can join the Big 12.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Monongalia County Circuit Court
alleges the Big East breached its contract with West Virginia by
failing to maintain a balance between football-playing members and non-football schools. The lawsuit asks a judge to invalidate the league's bylaws, including a provision that requires schools to give notice of 27 months before withdrawing.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh withdrew from the Big East in September to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.

According to the lawsuit, TCU accepted an invitation to join the
Big East but switched to the Big 12 in October and was not required to honor the 27-month notice requirement.



UPDATE 10/28/11 @ 9:30 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A big announcement means a big day in West Virginia: the Mountaineers are officially joining the Big 12.

For fans this comes with a lot of mixed emotions.

There's the excitement of playing more high-profile games and gaining even more attention. But, there's the downside that a lot of these schools are farther away than the ones in the Big East.

“The Big 12, I think they do have a good chance. They'll have time to build," says Daniel Crossman, a WVU fan who lives in Charleston.

But some fans feel like things were fine as they were.

Jason Fields says, "It's worked for this many years. Why change now?"

In the weeks leading up to the announcement, rumors were flying about which conference WVU would end up joining. Earlier this week, it seemed as if the school was a lock for the Big 12.

Then, there were allegations Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell (R) attempted to influence the Big 12 to take Louisville instead.

West Virginia’s congressional delegation quickly criticized McConnell.

On ESPN Friday, reporter Erin Andrews said about the situation, "You know, I thought 'General Hospital' was a good soap opera."

At the Charleston Department Store, this week’s rumors were enough to convince some fans to go on a shopping spree.

"The other day when they thought they were going to the Big 12, we had a spike. Now that it's official, business will pick up," manager Dale Haynes says.

Some fans point out any big move like this comes with its drawbacks.

"It's going to be a long distance," David Minturn of Sylvester says. "I'm afraid, for a lot of the fans to travel. I know we have a good fan base. And, also, I think moving up in conference, I hope we do well in playing some of these other teams."

In the Big East, the nearest schools are in states bordering West Virginia.

Joining the Big 12 means WVU will head to the Midwest a lot more.

"We've been in the Big East for years, might as well just stay where we're at," Jason Fields says.

But, Daniel Crossman argues, "They'll travel; (the fans) love their team."

WVU and Big 12 officials held a press conference Friday afternoon.

They wouldn't comment on whether this move will mean changes to ticket prices next season.

Athletic Director Oliver Luck says he's planning to talk with officials at schools where WVU has developed rivalries to see if they can work out a plan to keep some of those games alive.



UPDATE 10/28/11 @ 11:45 a.m.
IRVING, Texas (WSAZ) -- The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors have voted unanimously to accept West Virginia University as a full conference member effective July 1, 2012.

The Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 beginning with the 2012-13 athletic season.

West Virginia is the second new member to join the Conference since it began in 1996 after the addition of TCU earlier this month.

"The Big 12 Presidents and Chancellors are excited to welcome another outstanding institution to the Conference," said Burns Hargis, Chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors and President of Oklahoma State University. "The addition of West Virginia, while expanding the reach of the Big 12, brings an impressive institution with esteemed academics and a proud athletic tradition into the Conference. This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12."

"The Big 12 is a perfect fit for West Virginia University," said WVU President Dr. James P. Clements. "It is a strong conference that, like WVU, values quality academic and athletic programs, and has a great tradition of success. This is a very exciting time for WVU and Mountaineer nation. I am confident that the future of WVU athletics has never been more promising."

The Big 12 sponsors every sport the Mountaineers participate in except rifle and men’s soccer.

"We are excited to add West Virginia to our exceptional lineup of Conference members," said Big 12 Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas. "They bring an excellent overall athletic program to the Big 12 and allow the league to expand into an area that boasts a passionate group of fans and alumni throughout its region."

Beginning with the 2012-13 season it is expected that the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 10 Universities -- Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia.



UPDATE 10/28/11 @ 11:25 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Big East, Associate Commissioner, John Paquette tells WSAZ.com the conference has been contacted and told that West Virginia is joining the Big 12 Conference.

It appeared earlier in the week that the Big 12 had settled on
West Virginia as its replacement for Missouri, which is likely
leaving for the Southeastern Conference. But West Virginia's Big East rival Louisville briefly re-entered the picture and the
Mountaineers' invitation to the Big 12 was put on hold temporarily.

West Virginia will be the 10th member of the Big 12, and
Louisville will remain in the Big East.

At this time, WVU or the Big 12 have not released any information on the deal.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information



UPDATE 10/28/11 @ 11:09 a.m.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Big East says it's been told West Virginia is
leaving the conference to join Big 12.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



UPDATE 10/28/11 @ 10:58 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va (Metronews/WSAZ) -- Is it official this time that WVU has been invited and accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 ?

WV MetroNews says yes; saying it has confirmed the story CBS Sports first reported on Friday morning.

"It's final," U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said on Friday's MetroNews Talkline. "We accepted. They extended as the deal was proposed and it has been finalized."

CBSSports.com Brett McMurphy reported the following earlier Friday:

West Virginia has been invited to join the Big 12 Conference, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com Friday.

The Mountaineers will accept the invitation, sources said. The Big 12 is expected to officially announce the invitation later today.

The Big 12's board of directors voted Friday morning and chose West Virginia over Louisville. They will stay at 10 schools, a source said.

There has been no official word yet from the the Big 12 or WVU.

On Tuesday, West Virginia had received a verbal offer to join the Big 12, but then the league put the Mountaineers on hold because the league’s board of directors wanted to perform “due diligence.”

The league was split between adding West Virginia or Louisville to replace Missouri, which is expected to leave the league for the SEC.

Missouri still hasn’t officially left the Big 12. The Tigers are still negotiating an exit fee to leave the league. The SEC’s Digital Network, an official website of the SEC, accidentally posted a story Thursday night that Missouri would join the SEC on July 1, 2012.

If Missouri joins the SEC next season, West Virginia may have to wait until 2014 to leave the Big East for the Big 12.

The Big East has a 27-month notice before teams may leave the league. West Virginia is the latest team to announce they’re leaving the Big East Conference. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are headed to the ACC and TCU will join the Big 12 next season.



UPDATE 10/26/11 @ 1:30 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- WVU’s possible move to the Big 12 is on hold.

According to the the New York Times, it is due to a late push by Louisville to be admitted to the conference over WVU.

The paper reports Wednesday afternoon, that lobbying by Kentucky Senator, Mitch McConnell and David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma and a former senator, have helped slow West Virginia’s admittance to the Big 12.

“I think it’s 50-50 right now between West Virginia and Louisville,” one of the people with direct knowledge told the Times. The other added that it was 'too close to call.'”

Earlier Wednesday, WV Metronews and other media outlets reported that the Big 12 wanted “more information” from WVU.

West Virginia officials, who called the deal “solid,” late Tuesday afternoon, declined comment Wednesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for updated information.



ORIGINAL STORY 10/25/11 @ 3:31 p.m.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va.(AP) -- A person with knowledge of the decision says the Big 12 hasapproved West Virginia to replace Missouri when the Tigers complete their move to the Southeastern Conference.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of
anonymity Tuesday because neither the school nor the Big 12 had announced it.

West Virginia's move would allow the Big 12 to maintain 10
members and is another blow to the embattled Big East, which
already has lost two members and one member-to-be in the last six weeks.

The Big East is trying to reconfigure as a 12-team football
league and is courting Boise State, Navy, Air Force, Central
Florida, SMU and Houston. Commissioner John Marinatto met with officials from some of those schools Sunday in Washington.


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