College Football: West Virginia's Suit Against Big East Gets F for Frivolous
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Eight years ago, when ACC Commissioner John Swofford led the first assault on the Big East, the Big East knew it had to make some changes to survive.
After Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech defected to the ACC, the Big East made two significant changes in its bylaws, both directed at keeping its teams from defecting in the future.
First, it increased the exit fee to $5 million dollars, but this did not work. It didn't stop Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia from recently notifying Big East Commissioner John Marinatto they were leaving—Syracuse and Boston College to the ACC and West Virginia to the Big 12.
They also agreed upon a 27-month waiting period before a team could exit. This did work. Syracuse and Boston College are abiding by this time frame and plan to remain in the Big East until 2014. They're either respecting this ruling because they know they are legally bound by it or because they feel guilty for leaving for the ACC without warning Big East officials.
West Virginia announced that it plans on entering the Big 12 for the start of the 2012 football season. It made it clear it doesn't believe it has to abide by the 27-month waiting period.
Nobody put a gun to West Virginia and forced it to agree to the Big East 27-month waiting period. It agreed just like the other seven conference teams did.
However, West Virginia announced it is not going to be held by the 27-month waiting period and it's taken a proactive step to fight this ruling.
West Virginia will:
It has filed a lawsuit against the Big East claiming the conference breached its fiduciary responsibilities to West Virginia by failing to maintain a balance between football and non-football members.
The suit goes on to claim the Big East agreed to West Virginia's immediate withdrawal when it accepted a $2.5 million down payment of the $5 million exit fee.
This is a frivolous lawsuit. It should be thrown out of court immediately, and I believe it will.
Commissioner Marinatto calls it a strategy and can't understand why West Virginia does not want to honor the bylaws. He's also said the allegations and claims in the suit are false and do not justify West Virginia leaving early.
If West Virginia wants to get out of its contract with the Big East early, it's approaching it wrong.
It should start by expressing its desire to leave and start negotiations leading to a clean break with the Big East. The conference might try to accommodate West Virginia because it has been the flagship team of this conference since the first ACC raid.
West Virginia helped gain respect for Big East football when in 2006 it upset a heavily favored Georgia team in the Sugar Bowl and quieted the critics who were suggesting the Big East lose its automatic BCS bid.
This is going to be an interesting situation for both parties, as well as the Big 12 Conference.
West Virginia wants to leave immediately and the Big 12 wants it for the 2012 season, but this lawsuit is totally frivolous. It's embarrassing!
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