February 14, 2012
Big East plays 'Terminator,' Mountaineers gladly depart

MORGANTOWN - Cleaning out a crowded notebook and a cluttered mind while trying to digest all that happened in rapid-fire succession Tuesday morning with the West Virginia-Big East settlement, the release of the long-awaited Big 12 football schedule and everything it entails:

  • The long and rambling Question of the Day:
  • Back in 1991 when West Virginia was allowed to enter a poor man's version of the Big East known then as the Big East Football Conference ...

    Or in 1995 when the school was finally granted full access to the league and the basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden and all that went with it ...

    When the school was making NCAA tournament runs as early as 1998 and as late as 2010 while proudly flying the flag of the Big East ...

    At almost any of those points, would anyone on the planet have dared to guess that roughly two decades after WVU's Big East membership was granted it would be "terminated,'' as the conference so awkwardly put it Tuesday ...

    And that it would be treated, as Tony Caridi likes to say, as "a great day to be a Mountaineer, wherever you may be?''

    Funny how things work out, isn't it?

  • A lot of people seem to be worked up over the way the Big East chose to announce its part of Tuesday's $20 million settlement with West Virginia.
  • To wit: The league said right up front that its 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.''

    It's kind of like your boss saying, "You can't quit! You're fired!''

    Keep in mind, though, that the way the Big East announced the split was not surprising at all to WVU. In fact, it was an integral part of the agreement.

    The Big East can't just accept money from West Virginia and call it even. To do so would be to admit defeat. And while there is absolutely no question that the Big East was defeated in this process (it lost its pre-eminent football program over the last seven years and is left with a makeshift football league and schedule for 2012), legally it had to come away with something.

    That something was the very rule that WVU skirted. The suit that West Virginia filed in Monongalia County won't simply be dismissed, it will be dismissed with prejudice. The league's 27-month waiting period and the rest of its bylaws will be deemed legal and enforceable. That was imperative to the Big East so that down the road another school would not have carte blanche to just pay its way out of the conference.

    Sure, West Virginia wound up doing it, and another school could probably do the same. But to admit defeat on the legal issue would be to simply lay down the sword and give up.

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