Slow Things Down

The message presented by West Virginia President David Hardesty at Friday afternoon's press conference touched on many issues, but one theme was apparent - stopping the current breakneck pace of changes in the Big East conference.

Several times during his remarks and the quesiton and answer session that followed, Hardesty used the phrase "slow things down".

"We thought it was necessary to do something to force discussions, to slow the process down and if necessary ask for injunctive relief," Hardesty said.

From those remarks, it was easy to infer that one of the main goals of the suit, in addition to preserving the Big East conference, is to put a halt on the rapid departure of the breakaway schools for the ACC.

In response to a question about the timeline for resolution of the suit, Hardesty said that it could be "weeks to years" depending upon the individual schedules of the presidents involved, the schedule of the Connecticut court system, and the gathering of facts, among other issues. Hardesty also said that he expected the presidents to take time to fully study the suit, which runs some 40 pages in length.

Hardesty also filed something of a shot across the bows of the defendants, noting that "other schools have been working for months on this move, while we have only been working for weeks".

While saying that the filing of the lawsuit against Miami, Boston College and the ACC was to "protect the best interests of the five schools" and that the suit was filed "more in sorrow than in anger", Hardesty made it clear that the suit was not a frivolous action.

"We feel the actions of the defendants left us with no choice. Their actions would cause irreperable harm to the Big East conference and to the remaining schools," Hardesty said. "We filed this action with great resolve. I believe this is a defining moment in intercollegiate athletics. Our primary goal remains to keep the Big East intact."

Hardesty's statements were backed by Athletic Director Ed Patilong, Chairman of the Board of Governors Hank Barnette, and State Attorney General Darrell McGraw.

"This suit was filed advisedly, not lightly," McGraw said. "It is fundamental that agreements be maintained with integrity."

Hardesty also addressed a number of questions covering different areas and ramifications of the suit:

- As first reported on BlueGoldNews.com, Hardesty confirmed that Syracuse was not named in the suit because no information was found that pointed to them acting in a manner similar to that which the defendants are alleged to have acted.

- Hardesty said that the process of Temple's removal from the conference was not ths same as this situation, since all parties to the action worked on the issue openly, and that Temple was also compensated for their departure.

- Hardestiy clarified the content of the meetings that took place between Big East Conference commissioner Mike Tranghese and the ACC a few years ago.

"The nature of those meeting were diametrically opposed to this situation," Hardesty said. "Those meetings were geared toward a confederation of the two conferences, and were led by commissioners on both sides. They were also speculative in nature."

- Several times, Hardesty noted that decisions regarding the legal action were made in "accordance with the advice of counsel. Those statements appear to indicate a united front among the schools, and to put the onus for action upon the leagl advice that was received by the firm handling the case.

- Hardesty said presidents from several Big East schools, including Rutgers, Virginia Tech and Pitt had talked to their ACC counterparts, but that he had not.

- Damages could be sought for lost revenues from ticket sales, premium seat donations, infrastructure improvements and broadcast rights, among other areas. Hardesty said that a complete list had not yet been compiled.

- The Big East was not involved in the filing of the lawsuit because the two schools named in the suit are still members of the conference, and that the football and basketball schools of the Big East have different interests to represent. Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said that he was aware of the lawsuit, but was not involved in it.


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