As West Virginia and the Big East conference continue to battle over WVU’s desire to leave for the Big 12, a Rhode Island judge has ordered a non-binding mediation between the two sides, according to the Associated Press.
Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein signed the order on Tuesday and the two sides are scheduled to meet with a third-party mediator and report for a status conference on Feb. 9. The Big East must also respond to West Virginia’s filings by Jan. 18.
The meeting is non-binding, which means topics discussed are informal in nature and confidential, and thus not allowed to be used during trial. The two sides reportedly have yet to meet, although each side has filed a motion to dismiss the other’s lawsuit against them. Both of those motions have been denied.
Additionally, the Big East has filed an injunction against WVU to keep them in the conference. If both sides are unable to reach an agreement with the mediation, the Big East’s motion for the injunction will be heard on April 11th.
West Virginia has maintained that they will be a member of the Big 12 starting July 1, 2012, despite Big East bylaws that state the institution must wait 27 months before exiting the conference.
A trial for WVU’s lawsuit had been tentatively set for June 25. The initial feeling was that the two sides would eventually settle out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. However, the Big East has stood by its belief that it will keep WVU to the bylaws that the school reaffirmed with the rest of the conference on Oct. 17, two weeks before WVU filed its lawsuit against the conference.
The mediation could resolve that, but the emphasis is on “could.”