Over the weekend, ESPN reported that the West Virginia Mountaineers were heading to the Big XII Conference, just weeks after Syracuse and Pitt announced their defection from the much-maligned Big East. Yesterday, the West Virginia Univ. Board of Governors filed a six-count lawsuit [PDF] against the Big East, in Monongalia County Circuit Court (WV), which essentially accuses Big East Commissioner John Marinatto of running the organization into the ground, to the point where the conference is no longer viable or competitive.
This lack of leadership, breach of fiduciary duties by the Big East and its Commissioner, and voting disparity between the football and non-football schools resulted in the Big East football conference no longer being a viable and competitive football conference. Additionally, upon information and belief, [it] is expected by WVU and others that the Big East will lose its [automatic BCS bid]. Accordingly, the Big East Conference and its Commissioner … breached their contract [with] WVU and nullified and voided the Bylaws.
This is really great stuff. What WVU is arguing is that despite the fact that they entered into a contract with the Big East and agreed to be bound by its rules and regulations (i.e. Bylaws), that they shouldn’t have to fulfill their contractual obligations to the conference because Marinatto failed to fulfill his obligations to the organization and its member institutions.
By suing the Big East instead of waiting for the Big East to sue them, WVU has seized home-field advantage: They get to fight their fight in West Virginia state court, rather than a Rhode Island court, or federal court. Not surprisingly, Marinatto released a statement saying, “a contract is a contract,” and basically threw the bullshit flag, but based on the facts alleged in the complaint, relative to the facts I know, I like WVU’s chances. Kudos to attorneys Stephen M. LaCagnin, Seth P. Hayes and the Morgantown, WV law firm Jackson Kelly.