Brett McMurphy, of CBS Sports, is reporting that WVU and the Big East are closing in on reaching a settlement of the pending lawsuits in West Virginia and Rhode Island. Says McMurphy:
West Virginia and the Big East Conference are nearing agreement on a settlement worth at least $20 million that would resolve all issues between both parties, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.
The Mountaineers will join the Big 12 for the 2012-13 school year. However, in a bizarre twist, sources told CBSSports.com that West Virginia officials have contacted future Big East members to see if one could join in 2012 instead of 2013.
Some pundits are questioning how and why WVU, whose officials have continually disparaged the Big East and its leadership, could attempt to convince other schools to join a year early. I think the answer is fairly obvious. Those other schools are joining the Big East anyway because they see it as a better position than their current one. Even without WVU, Pitt and Syracuse, the Big East will be a better conference than any current non-AQ league. It will generate more TV revenue, and it will command a larger audience. So why not join up ahead of schedule, especially when Pitt and Syracuse will still be in the league for a year?
As for the buyout number, $20 million is a hefty pricetag to pay. Heck, Mountaineer field cost $22 million (in 1980) and the new basketball practice facility costs $24 million. But is it worth it? Absolutely. The amount of revenue WVU will generate over the long haul due to its membership in the Big XII will be far more than $20 million. And really, WVU needed to get out as fast as it could, no matter the price.
From here on, it's going to be a matter of keeping up with the Texases and Oklahomas of the world to compete at an elite level. Once WVU has paid off its settlement, it can move forward toward that goal.