As one would expect, the lawsuit between West Virginia and the Big East over when the school can leave to join their new conference, the Big 12, has gotten ugly.
Just over a week ago, WVU made it known they planned on joining the Big 12 on July 1 of next year. A lawsuit by the school the following Monday claimed, among many other things, that the Big East’s degeneration wasn’t keeping the conference attractive enough for BCS inclusion past 2013. Therefore, the 27-month notification and waiting period was null.
In so many words, WVU is arguing is that because the Big East didn’t “uphold their end of the deal” (“breach of fiduciary duties” is how the lawsuit describes it), the conference bylaws cannot be applied to the institution as it attempts to get out early.
WVU also noted, in their belief, that the conference had conceded to letting the school out early because it had accepted $2.5 million in an proposal to withdraw letter from WVU — half of the $5 million exit fee* the conference employed. That belief was in context to the fact that the Big East had allowed TCU to only pay the exit fee and not wait 27 months before leaving for the Big 12.
(*note: WVU wanted to make the Big 12 move official ASAP to avoid any increase in exit fees took effect; conference presidents voted unanimously to raise the exit fees to $10 million)
Below is the explanation in the lawsuit reflecting that belief under Count 1: Declaratory Judgement.
40. In addition, WVU recently submitted an offer to the Commissioner proposing that WVU be permitted to immediately withdraw from the Big East in exchange for a payment of certain monies with this offer
41. Following receipt of of the aforementioned offer or proposal, the Commissioner accepted WVU’s tendered enclosed payment, thus accepting WVU’s offer or proposal to immediately withdraw from the BigEast on the terms that WVU had submitted.
Thanks to BlueGoldNews.com, the proposal was made pubic via Freedom of Information Act. The proposal is dating Oct. 28, the same day WVU announced its plan to move to the Big 12.
On the same day — Oct. 28 — Marinatto replied back with the following e-mail
The Big East has since filed a countersuit against WVU, demanding the institution comply with conference bylaws. The Big East maintains that WVU intends to breach contract and intentionally injure “the reputation, goodwill and financial interests of the Big East and is members.”
The countersuit cites that a departure by WVU in 2012 would cause “irreparable” damages in scheduling and negotiation of the reduction of TV rights by ESPN and CBS — two media rights holders for the Big East.
John Marinatto‘s e-mail states that Clements’ proposal was not a proper withdrawal method, therefore the acceptance of the $2.5 million buyout money was not a concession to WVU’s desire to exit the Big East early. Article 11.02(b) of the Big East bylaws says any an attempt by an institution to leave early causes irreparable damages “for which there is no adequate remedy of law”, and that the school is required to stay the 27 months.
In the eyes of the Big East, WVU didn’t even give the correct notification of withdrawal, so how in the world do they have a good enough case to get them out of the conference early?