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Updated: Pitt suing the Big East over right to leave in 2013

Pittsburgh Voted In To ACC League Getty Images

When West Virginia sued the Big East last fall over the right to join the Big 12 in 2012, it was believed one of the consequences would be similar lawsuits by Big East members Pitt and Syracuse, which agreed to join the ACC in 2014.

It appears that consequence is beginning to come to fruition.

First reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pitt filed a lawsuit Friday to allow the Panthers to join their new home on July 1, 2013 without penalty or interference.

The report from the Post-Gazette states Pitt believes departures by TCU and WVU to the Big 12 have “cost the University of Pittsburgh lost ticket sales, buyout fees and game fees for two valuable home football games those opponents scheduled, then abandoned, leaving Pitt scrambling to find replacements at additional cost.”

Additionally, Pitt is asking for (yes, they’re asking for stuff) “revenue received by the conference during the 2011-2012 conference year, including money received from TCU and WVU; and reimbursement for damages such as the fees Pitt paid to secure the lost home games with TCU and WVU and to secure replacement games with lesser rivals, the lost ticket sales from disappointed fans, court costs and other financial losses.”

Below is a statement release by the university:

“Since the University of Pittsburgh made the decision to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, we have done everything possible to move through a smooth transition with the Big East. Though we have been excluded from governance activities, meetings, decision-making and operational functions of the conference, we have been positive and respectful of the Big East.

“On September 26, 2011, when we notified the Big East that we were withdrawing from the conference, we paid the first half of the exit fee of $5 million. When the 2012-13 season is complete, we will have competed in the Big East for two seasons, thus providing ample time to re-form the Big East Conference for the future. Beginning with the 2013-14 season, the Big East will actually have four more football playing schools and more schools overall than when we gave notice that we were moving to a different conference.

“Although the Big East’s stated position is that we must stay through the 2013-14 season, the Big East acknowledged publicly that a discussion of our departure after the 2012-13 season was appropriate. A few weeks ago, Steve Pederson met with John Marinatto to begin the process to work toward an exit after this upcoming academic year. The Commissioner indicated that he was doing this with the authorization of the Chair of the Big East Presidents. However, attempts to contact the Big East in the following weeks to move the process forward have been unsuccessful, leading us to conclude that negotiations would not occur. Given the change in leadership of the Big East and the lack of response to our attempted contacts, on Friday, May 11, 2012, we filed a law suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, seeking resolution of this matter. We are confident in our position as stated in the complaint, but believe that this matter is best resolved between the parties. We have notified the Big East of this action, and continue to hope that our departure can be accommodated through private negotiations.”

A few thoughts on the move:

  • Regardless of the news this morning that Boise State was potentially having second thoughts about joining the Big East, the lawsuit itself can’t be totally unexpected. As mentioned above, once WVU filed a suit against the conference and essentially won by settling out of court, the door was open for Pitt and Syracuse to do the same.
  • Because scheduling inventory isn’t a real critical part of Pitt’s lawsuit, I doubt it will carry the same weight as the one WVU filed. Remember, WVU left the Big East with just seven football members for a brief time. Think of this lawsuit as more of a guarantee that Pitt will leave in 2013 because the program is now dealing with a new, interim commissioner with the resignation of John Marinatto (by all accounts, Marinatto was fine with letting Pitt/’Cuse leave in 2013).
  • However, the emboldened part of Pitt’s statement is important because it assumes the Big East will have four new members beginning in 2013. It’s believed that if Boise State gets cold feet, San Diego State could do the same. The Broncos are expected to be the cornerstone of the conference once all the dust settles in the next couple of years. If they decide to stay in the Mountain West, however, that could spell monetary trouble for a media rights agreement the conference is trying to land.
  • If Boise/SDSU do back out, the Big East could try to hold Pitt to their contract though 2013-14 (although that seems unenforceable).
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9 Responses to “Updated: Pitt suing the Big East over right to leave in 2013”
  1. normtide says: May 11, 2012 7:32 PM

    The BigEast may implode. That will launch next years realignment. I expect the MAC will snag the last few football scraps.

  2. dmcgrann says: May 11, 2012 8:43 PM

    A Big East implosion will probably have a negligible effect on BCS-level college football, but it could have a fairly adverse and crazy effect on D1 basketball as we know it. For football, I see more of the status quo, except that there won’t be a sometimes bogus Big Eat FB champion getting big bowl bucks.

  3. puckfitt says: May 11, 2012 8:46 PM

    “…and the walls, come tumbling down…”

  4. fitz66 says: May 11, 2012 9:32 PM

    Now that WVU has done all of the leg work. High -5 sPitt.

  5. dawglb says: May 12, 2012 12:18 AM

    I am not going to pretend that I know where (in which conference) every team is these days. But, this is getting ridiculous! This is college athletics! College athletics has become such big business, that it is no wonder that so many DI athletes (basketball and football) can barely speak or pass basic reading/writing/math tests. It is a crime……or should be.

  6. orthomarine says: May 12, 2012 8:29 AM

    Pitt better not slow down or Cuse will run into them on their ways out the door

  7. drummerhoff says: May 12, 2012 11:11 AM

    How can you forget Jurich announcing that Louisville is exploring options to join the Big 12 … or …. wait for it …. the ACC?

    This is significant for one obvious reason (more bad news for the Big East) and one not so obvious reason: Louisville to the ACC? Well, that could only happen if the ACC losses members, right?

  8. deadeye says: May 12, 2012 12:49 PM

    The Big East was a bad idea from the beginning of it’s football history. The conference was ORIGINALLY a basketball conference comprised of east coast independents. Then along came football (second rate BTW) and all the ingredients were there for the melt down we are now witnessing.

    Can the conference be salvaged? It sure doesn’t look like it. The remaining basketball-only schools need to drop out and reform a new basketball only conference. Perhaps they could name it the “Big East 2”.

  9. halbert53 says: May 12, 2012 12:56 PM

    Of course the SEC wants to add Duke and North Carolina to bring the SEC up to 16 teams. If that comes to pass, that would open up more slots in the ACC for better remnants of Big East.

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