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WVU settles lawsuit with Big East

Mountaineers expect to become a member of Big 12 Conference in July

- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2012

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University announced Tuesday it has settled a lawsuit with the Big East for an unspecified amount, clearing the way for the conference power Mountaineers to join the Big 12 in July in time for the fall football season.

Athletic Director Oliver Luck said the terms of the deal were confidential. But Luck said no state, taxpayer, tuition or other academic dollars will be used in the settlement.

A person familiar with the agreement said the settlement totaled $20 million but did not know how much money would come from the university and how much the Big 12 may contribute.

Luck said the funding will come only from private sources and money that athletics raised independently. WVU already has paid half of the required $5 million exit fee.

Luck said the new relationship puts WVU among peers that also are also large, public, flagship institutions for their states and have strong academic and research programs. Athletically, it's a "challenging and competitive" group, he said, populated by schools with "tremendous legacies, passionate fan bases."

It's also lucrative: Luck said WVU should get about $18 million to $19 million a year in television payouts, about double what it gets from the Big East. Payments are being prorated for the first three years at 50 percent, 67 percent and 87 percent, he said, reaching 100 percent in the fourth year.

"It's a very healthy television payout, and it's important we maintain our self-sufficient status," Luck said. "With this move, we'll be in an excellent position to do so."

A spokesman for the Big 12 didn't immediately comment, but the conference released its football schedule about an hour after the announcement. West Virginia makes its Big 12 debut Sept. 29 at home against Baylor.

The Mountaineers and their explosive offense went 10-3 last season and finished ranked in the Top 25. West Virginia capped the season with a record-setting 70-33 victory over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Luck didn't rule out the possibility of a nonconference game against archrival Pittsburgh after the 2012 season but said that both schools have nine nonconference games and a matchup would be "difficult to schedule."

"It's pretty obvious there will be no Backyard Brawl" in 2012, he said.

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