The divorce just got ugly.
West Virginia filed a civil lawsuit against the Big East on Monday in an attempt to exit the conference in 2012 to join the Big 12, squarely blaming commissioner John Marinatto for the instability of the conference.
In the 14-page suit filed in Monongalia County Circuit Court in West Virginia, the university claims it should not be held to the 27-month waiting period required of all departing teams. West Virginia alleges, “The Big East Conference and its commissioner, through their actions, breached their contract to WVU and nullified and voided the bylaws.”
How did the Big East breach its contract? West Virginia alleges that nothing was done to protect the remaining six football playing schools once Pitt, Syracuse and TCU left. That created such instability, that the lawsuit alleges Cincinnati, Rutgers and UConn engaged in discussions with the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten.
West Virginia alleges Marinatto failed to take proactive measures to “maintain, let alone enhance the quality of competition in the league” and the school had no choice but to accept an invitation to the Big 12.
A copy of the suit is here, and a good explanation of what it’s all about is here; more on WVU joining the Big XII is here. What happens in this case will likely also determine the fates of Syracuse and Pitt, whom the Big East is also trying to hold through the end of the 2013 season. It’s fair to say that this will have a large effect on the college football landscape. Ready to make up your mind about conference affiliation yet, UH?
UPDATE: Meanwhile, the Big East is moving forward on inviting new members, apparently including UH. Something to think about: Currently, the only Big East school ranked in the BCS Top 25 is none other than West Virginia, at #24. Conference USA, with UH at #13 and Southern Miss at #25, now has more BCS-ranked schools than the Big East. Methinks they need UH and Boise State more than UH and Boise State, which could join forces in the proposed C-USA/MWC mega-conference, need them.