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 and West Virginia wouldn’t release details. 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 might contribute.
Luck said the funding will come only from private sources and money that athletics raised independently. The school has already paid half of the required $5 million exit fee.
Luck said the new relationship puts West Virginia among peers that 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 the school 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.”
The Big 12 released its football schedule about an hour after the announcement. West Virginia makes its Big 12 debut Sept. 29 at home against Baylor.
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.
West Virginia sued the Big East in Monongalia County Circuit Court in November, challenging its bylaws in a bid to join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 season.
The Big East countersued in Rhode Island four days later, arguing that West Virginia had breached its contract with the conference and should remain in the Big East for another two years as required in the bylaws.