WVU, Big East at Extreme Odds - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU, Big East at Extreme Odds

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MORGANTOWN -

How quickly the tone of West Virginia's exit from the Big East has changed.

On a Friday teleconference, University President James Clements repeatedly answered questions regarding the conference's 27-month rule with the same response.

"Our intent is clearly July 1, we'll be a member of the Big 12," he said. "Our team and their team are in discussions about how we make that happen."

The two teams must not have been productive in their discussions, because just a few days later, on Monday, WVU's team filed a lawsuit against the Big East.

League officials said Friday night that the Big East was prepared to do the same to West Virginia University if it attempted to leave the conference before the timeframe outlined in the bylaws. Instead, WVU struck first.

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto remains adamant that the University adhere to the bylaws.

"We are disappointed that West Virginia has adopted this strategy and cannot imagine why it believes it does not have to respect and honor the bylaws it agreed to as a member of the Big East," Marinatto said in a statement. "Based on an initial review of the lawsuit, it is clear that the allegations and claims in it are false and inaccurate. Certainly there is nothing in it that would justify WVU's not fulfilling its obligations. To put it simply, a contract is a contract."

But WVU believes the contract has been voided by the conference's actions and its inability to remain competitive as a football league.

"As the Big East, in less than two months, had denigrated into a non-major football conference whose continued existence is in serious jeopardy, WVU had no choice but to accept the Big XII's offer," the lawsuit reads.

Throughout the 14-page document, WVU blames Marinatto and the conference for allowing the Big East's football future to become so bleak. Actions, or lack thereof, taken by the Big East led to this tumultuous time in which the Mountaineers were forced to look for a more stable home.

In the past few months, Big East members have voted on a number of issues pertaining to conference expansion. WVU has been a part of each of those votes, many of which resulted in unanimous decisions.

But the lawsuit claims that the inclusion of non-football playing schools in those votes made them unfair to the football playing institutions. A conference that got its start in basketball was favoring the members that did not play football by giving them equal power.

With WVU, Pittsburgh and Syracuse leaving the Big East, there would be just five football schools left. At the same time, 13 non-football playing schools would remain, certainly enough to keep a basketball conference alive.

This move on the part of the University will be watched closely by Pittsburgh and Syracuse, both of which are leaving the Big East for the ACC. Those member institutions are also being held to the 27-month rule.

Just six years ago, following the departure of Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College, this conference was fighting for respectability in football. There was a growing concern that despite the actions to maintain a competitive football league, the Big East would lose its automatic qualification in the BCS the next time it came up for vote.

West Virginia brought the conference the respectability it sought, and at the time, Commissioner Mike Tranghese expressed his gratitude to the Mountaineers for performing as such.

Now WVU believes it can no longer perform at the highest levels of college football while a member of the Big East. The plan is in motion to leave behind a league that finds itself doing all it can to scrape together enough pieces to maintain national relevance.

West Virginia wants no part of it, and so the lawsuit has been filed.

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