Eight months later — after the league nearly disbanded, added seven schools from the nonautomatic leagues and forced West Virginia to pay a $20 million exit fee to join the Big 12 — the Big East is coming after TCU for reparations in the form of $5 million.
The conference filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington stating that TCU agreed to pay the league $5 million if it failed to become a member of the Big East after verbally joining back in November 2010. Last October, TCU reneged on its agreement and left the Big East for the Big 12 without having to pay an exit fee.
"The Big East made demand for the payment owed under the agreement, but Texas Christian University has refused to make that payment or acknowledge its obligation to do so," according to the lawsuit.
TCU never officially joined the Big East because conference affiliation changes don't take affect until July and the Horned Frogs had to wait a year to get out of their contract with the Mountain West.
"TCU administrators were surprised by this lawsuit and believe it is premature," TCU said in a statement. "The University is hopeful for an amicable resolution of this matter."
When TCU left the Big East, it put the entire conference in jeopardy. At the time, the Big East was left with just six football schools and was in danger of losing more with several other schools flirting with other conferences. This didn't exactly put TCU on good terms with the Big East or its membership.
However, this lawsuit isn't about getting the Horned Frogs to stay the 27-month waiting period, which is being imposed on Syracuse and Pittsburgh, which are leaving for the ACC in 2014, or pay a ridiculous buyout to be free of the waiting period like West Virginia. No, Big East schedules are already set as is its new membership. It seems like it's just about having TCU pay something so it doesn't look like the conference just let the Horned Frogs go.
And $5 million won't exactly break the bank for a program that had a $52 million budget last year — highest in the Mountain West — and is achieving record numbers in donor giving. TCU is completing a $164 million renovation of Amon G. Carter Stadium and will earn 50 percent of the Big 12's $17 million-$20 million BCS payout after the 2012-13 season — TCU never earned more than $3 million as a member of the Mountain West.
And really, $5 million is a bargain considering the pains other teams have had to endure to break up with the Big East.