With their respective leagues being picked apart by the month to fulfill others’ expansion plans, 16 presidents and chancellors from Conference USA and Mountain West Conference met Sunday in Dallas, knowing they needed to do something.
The result is a new league with a wide scope that goes coast-to-coast and beyond.
C-USA and the Mountain West agreed on an athletic association that will combine the remaining members of the two leagues plus three future Mountain West members to form a 16-team conference beginning in the 2013-14 academic year.
The new league, whose name is to be determined, will include Rice. Athletic director Rick Greenspan called it the dawning of an exciting new chapter for the Owls.
“This new conference is one that allows us to retain much of the competitive equity and familiarity we have built up over our seven years in C-USA while also broadening our appeal to an even wider audience,” Greenspan said in a statement. “It will address many of the core concerns that have led others to seek new affiliations and does so without a significant increase in the demands we place on our student-athletes.”
Ultimately, the league’s membership likely will include 18 to 24 schools, with members ranging from the Atlantic seaboard to Hawaii. A football championship format will include semifinals and a final, and there will be a conference basketball tournament.
There’s 16 teams now for football, 15 or possible less for other sports. I’m guessing other schools may affiliate for other sports, but who knows. At least for football, there’s a neat east-west division, with the C-USA schools being in the former and the MWC schools in the latter. That will help with travel costs. I woulcn’t call this the best of all possible worlds, but it’ll do till whatever the next thing is that shakes up the landscape comes along. And the MOB will get to do an Annual Salute To The New Conference show.
Meanwhile, West Virginia has settled its lawsuit with the Big East.
West Virginia will join the Big 12 for the 2012 season after a lawsuit settlement was reached with the Big East, the school and league announced Tuesday.
The Big East Conference board of directors voted to terminate West Virginia’s membership, effective June 30. The vote is conditioned upon WVU fulfilling its obligations under an agreement that resolves the lawsuits between both parties.
West Virginia accepted an invitation in October 2011 to join the Big 12, and sued the Big East in its home state to get out of the league without waiting the required 27 months. The Big East filed its own suit in Rhode Island, seeking to hold West Virginia to the waiting period.
The Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, citing an anonymous source, has reported that the Big East will receive $20 million in the settlement, with WVU contributing $11 million, and the Big 12 covering the remaining amount.
WVU already has paid half of the normally required $5 million exit fee to the Big East.
As my friend Ellen likes to say, some problems are best solved by swatting them with a checkbook until they die. This was one of them. We’ll see if Syracuse and Pittsburgh will follow West Virginia out the door before their waiting period is up.