SBD/February 10, 2012/Colleges

Big East Expected To Receive $20M For Allowing WVU To Leave Early

West Virginia will become a full member of the Big 12 on July 1
West Virginia Univ. and the Big East Conference “have reached a conditional agreement to settle their legal battles against one another,” according to a source cited by Casazza & Hunt of the CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL. A formal announcement “could be made as early as Friday.” The Big East will “make about $20 million from the resolution, with WVU paying $11 million.” A source Thursday said that the additional $9M “would come in the form of contributions from other Big 12 member schools.” WVU's $11M payment “would cover three things: The Big East's $5 million exit fee, Boise State's $5 million buyout fee, and $1 million to match what each Big 12 school is paying” WVU "will enjoy full membership" in the Big 12 beginning July 1. The source said that WVU's early exit from the Big East “is no longer conditional upon Boise State joining the Big East as a replacement in 2012.” One of the reasons the Big East has been fighting the lawsuit “is the fact that it's incoming members aren't scheduled to join the conference until 2013 -- which would leave a gap in schedules if WVU left this year” (DAILYMAIL.com, 2/9).

MERGER TALK: In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson notes Mountain West Conference and Conference USA presidents will hold a meeting Sunday. No one will say the gathering will “finally result in a merger, but there is hope -- and perhaps optimism -- that will be the outcome.” This will be the “second time in less than a month the parties will have met in Dallas.” UNLV AD Jim Livengood said Thursday, "I think there needs to be a decision soon. I don't think we can have a lot more meetings.” Both conferences were “hit with the news this week of Memphis leaving C-USA in all sports for the Big East Conference in 2013.” That defection will “reduce that conference's membership to eight schools in which to merge with the Mountain West.” A merger “probably would take place in 2013, but in what form is uncertain, and probably a major reason that discussions have been slow.” The presidents have to “decide whether the merger would be for football only or all sports.” TV, scheduling and postseason details “also need to be worked out” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/10). Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson Wednesday said that “going into the 2013 season with eight football teams isn't a workable number.” Thompson: "The Mountain West needs to change the numbers. Staying with a status quo of eight teams for 2013 is not acceptable" (DENVER POST, 2/9). YAHOO SPORTS’ Graham Watson noted the merger “could form a 16-team superconference with divisions and a championship game” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/9).

THINKING GLOBABLLY: In Utah, Mike Sorensen notes Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott this week was at the Univ. of Utah “for the first-ever Front Porch Leadership Summit with representatives from all 12 schools in the conference.” The idea of the two-day summit is “for provosts from the 12 universities to get together to discuss things such as academic issues, globalization initiatives and how the new Pac-12 networks will enhance conference schools for more than just athletics.” Scott spoke about “getting the Pac-12's brand outside of the United States, particularly in places like China.” He “doesn't envision regular-season games being played in China, but he does see opportunities for student-athletes to play on foreign tours and internationally in Pac-12-sponsored competitions.” Scott: "We're trying to broaden our perspective. It's a tremendous opportunity [to] think about what's the brand of our conference and our schools that we want to project more broadly" (DESERET NEWS, 2/10).

WAVING GOODBYE TO RIVALRIES: Thursday afternoon’s edition of ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” examined the effect of conference realignment on traditional rivalries between schools. ESPN’s Andy Katz said of losing longtime rivalries like Kansas-Missouri and Syracuse-Georgetown, “It’s a shame that some of these great rivalries and some of these games that are really good for network television and for the gate at those respective campuses, those could all be gone.” The Nation’s Dave Zirin said, "The danger with this -- and it is a serious danger for college sports -- is that it sort of rips the mask away and shows this to be the big business that it is” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 2/9).
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