The move is contingent upon West Virginia "fulfilling its obligations" to resolve the lawsuits between both parties. If that happens, the Big East will not hold West Virginia to the 27-month waiting period for leaving the conference, the current requirement under conference bylaws.
West Virginia's move leaves the Big East with seven football schools – including Connecticut – for 2012. Syracuse and Pittsburgh have announced they are leaving for the ACC, but are expected to remain at least through the 2012-13 season.
The Big East has plans to add seven new members by 2015. But so far the conference has not able to rectify scheduling problems for 2012 by getting one of those new members to join early.
Here is the release the Big East issued Tuesday morning:
Providence, R.I. -- The BIG EAST Conference 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.
"West Virginia University has acknowledged and agreed that the Court in Monongalia County, West Virginia, will enter a judgment that the BIG EAST Conference Bylaws are valid and enforceable, and will dismiss with prejudice all of West Virginia's claims against the Conference." stated John Marinatto Commissioner of the BIG EAST Conference.
The Bylaws establish the circumstances by which a member may unilaterally withdraw from the Conference, which includes payment of an exit fee and a minimum of 27 months' notice. The Bylaws also provide that the Conference may, by 3/4 vote, terminate the membership of any member and that is the process by which West Virginia University will depart as a member of The BIG EAST Conference.
In deciding to terminate West Virginia University's membership, the Conference took into account the accusations that WVU asserted against the BIG EAST in the lawsuit that is now being dismissed. The Conference also took into account the steps that West Virginia University was willing to take to resolve the litigation, including the payment of an exit fee well in excess of that required by the Bylaws. In light of all of these factors, the BIG EAST Conference felt that it was in its best interest to terminate West Virginia University's membership and conclude the litigation.
The BIG EAST Conference wishes the West Virginia University student-athletes success in their future athletic endeavors. With the recent addition of Boise State University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Houston, the University of Memphis, San Diego State University, Southern Methodist University, and the United States Naval Academy, the future for the BIG EAST Conference has never been brighter.
West Virginia immediately announced its 2012 football schedule:
West Virginia's conference home dates include Baylor (Sept. 29), Kansas State (Oct. 20), TCU (Nov. 3), Oklahoma (Nov. 17) and Kansas (Dec. 1). Road conference dates include Texas (Oct. 6), Texas Tech (Oct. 13), Oklahoma State (Nov. 10) and Iowa State (Nov. 24).
The Mountaineers have posted an 8-4 all-time series record against 2012 Big 12 schools including: Kansas (1-0), Kansas State (1-1), Oklahoma (2-2), Oklahoma State (2-1), Texas (1-0) and Texas Tech (1-0).
In WVU's non-conference schedule, West Virginia will open its season at Milan Puskar Stadium with Marshall on Sept. 1. The Mountaineers face the Herd in the "Friends of Coal Bowl" for the seventh straight year. After an open week, WVU will face FCS opponent James Madison at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., on Saturday, Sept. 15. This marks the first time that the Mountaineers have played a game at FedEx Field and is the second meeting with the Dukes, as the previous meeting took place in 2004 at Milan Puskar Stadium.
WVU then plays host to Maryland on Saturday, Sept. 22. This is the third straight year the two border rivals have faced one another and 46th time overall in a series that dates back to 1919.