West Virginia will officially join the Big 12 in 2012. Their membership in the Big East is terminated effective June 30, 2012, the conference announced this morning in a press release.
The Mountaineers announced in October that they were leaving to join the Big 12 in 2012, although Big East bylaws stated that departing teams must adhere to a 27-month waiting period.
A legal battle ensued which culminated in the decision today to terminate West Virginia’s membership in the Big East. Last week, CBSSports.com reported that the two sides had settled and that the Big East would receive $20 million.
With West Virginia now in the Big 12 for 2012, the Big East is down to only seven teams for the 2012 season. Reports indicate that the conference is trying to persuade Boise State to join in 2012 to fill the hole created by West Virginia.
If Boise State can’t or won’t join in 2012, each Big East team will have to scramble to add a non-conference game. It’s even possible that some Big East teams could play twice during the season with only one game counting in the conference standings.
Big East Release
The BIG EAST Conference Board of Directors has voted to terminate West Virginia University’s membership in the Conference, effective June 30, 2012.
This vote is conditioned on WVU fulfilling its obligations under a settlement agreement with the Conference that resolves the litigation between the parties.
“West Virginia University has acknowledged and agreed that the Court in Monongalia County, West Virginia, will enter a judgment that the BIG EAST Conference Bylaws are valid and enforceable, and will dismiss with prejudice all of West Virginia’s claims against the Conference.” stated John Marinatto Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference.
The Bylaws establish the circumstances by which a member may unilaterally withdraw from the Conference, which includes payment of an exit fee and a minimum of 27 months’ notice. The Bylaws also provide that the Conference may, by 3/4 vote, terminate the membership of any member and that is the process by which West Virginia University will depart as a member of The BIG EAST Conference.
In deciding to terminate West Virginia University’s membership, the Conference took into account the accusations that WVU asserted against the BIG EAST in the lawsuit that is now being dismissed. The Conference also took into account the steps that West Virginia University was willing to take to resolve the litigation, including the payment of an exit fee well in excess of that required by the Bylaws. In light of all of these factors, the BIG EAST Conference felt that it was in its best interest to terminate West Virginia University’s membership and conclude the litigation.
The BIG EAST Conference wishes the West Virginia University student-athletes success in their future athletic endeavors. With the recent addition of Boise State University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Houston, the University of Memphis, San Diego State University, Southern Methodist University, and the United States Naval Academy, the future for the BIG EAST Conference has never been brighter.