WVU, Big East reach agreement
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University has reached an agreement with Big East Conference officials that will allow the university to leave the conference and join the Big 12, the Gazette confirmed late Thursday.
A source close to the situation said, "I can't confirm the numbers, but the Big East has accepted our offer." A second source also confirmed that an agreement had been reached.
Perhaps as an indication that something was brewing earlier in the day, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt told the Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal that the long-anticipated 2012 Big 12 football schedule will be released today.
"It is going to come out [today] and I'm pleased with the end result," Hocutt told the paper.
The release of the schedule has been held up by the legal jousting between WVU and the Big East since West Virginia announced its plans to leave the conference and join the Big 12 for the 2012-13 school year.
Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told the Gazette that WVU would be on the Big 12's upcoming football schedules, but neither the Big 12 nor the Big East has released their schedules.
That could change today.
Earlier Thursday, Providence County [R.I.] Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein held a status conference with both WVU and Big East representatives.
"It was merely a status conference," William H. Hutchens III, WVU's Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel, said Thursday afternoon. "We are under court order not to comment, but I can say we are still involved in mediation and it hasn't been resolved at this point."
At the time, an administrator from the court issued a statement.
"The result of the Big East/WVU conference with Judge Silverstein this morning is that the matter is continued to an unspecified date for another status conference," it said.
"The Rhode Island case continues on a path toward trial, though Judge Silverstein is certainly open to news of a settlement if that happens in the interim. The judge did not disclose anything more specific than that regarding his discussions with the attorneys [Thursday] morning."
Hutchens explained that the parties identified an acceptable mediator and the process "sometimes takes several sessions."
On Wednesday, the Gazette confirmed WVU officials were willing to pay the Big East $11 million with additional money expected from the Big 12 Conference.
But one source said Wednesday that things were "still very fluid."
Some reports claimed that an obstacle was the Big East's desire for a team to replace WVU on next season's league football schedules. The school that kept surfacing in discussions on the issue was Boise State, which has a $5 million buyout in the Mountain West.
A Feb. 6 story in the Idaho Statesman, however, claimed Boise State president Bob Kustra wasn't keen on the possibility.
"It's too late," Kustra said. "I can't imagine how anyone can pull that off. We would never want to pull it off in a fashion that dealt shabbily with our existing partners in the Mountain West. I don't think that would ever work."
CBS Sports had reported WVU and the Big East were nearing a settled agreement "worth at least $20 million." That could be a number reached if each Big 12 school pitched in $1 million as a way to satisfy television contracts calling for 10 members.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.