In preparation of its likely move to the Big Ten in 2014, Rutgers is suing the Big East and is hoping for an early exit from a conference that is quickly losing what little credibility it once had on the football field.
Two weeks ago, Rutgers announced it had accepted an invitation to the Big Ten, ending a football relationship with the Big East that started in 1991. Now with a target of getting into its new conference by 2014, Rutgers has taken the Big East to court. At the center of the litigation is the 27-month wait imposed on members wanting to leave the conference. Also included is the financial component, including a $10 million penalty for programs that defect elsewhere.
In the complaint, Rutgers cited the early exit of programs such as West Virginia last year and both Pittsburgh and Syracuse after this season as grounds for its target date of leaving the conference by 2014.
In part, the complaint read:
"The court should accordingly enter an order declaring the Bylaws to be void and of no effect as between the parties, permitting Rutgers to withdraw from The Big East prior to July 1, 2015, or in alternative, declaring that The Big East has waived Rutgers' obligation to abide by the 27 months notice provision and the requirement of a withdrawal fee."
In addition, Rutgers is also counteracting the somewhat punitive $10 million exit fee from the Big East, stating the university suffered lost revenue from the insufficient payments of member schools that left the conference and didn't pay their fair share of the exit fee.
The clincher from Rutgers is that the Big East has failed to collect the $39.5 million owed to it by the recently departed programs, saying that exit fees "arbitrarily applies to some, but not all, of the Big East football schools, and the effect is to penalize certain members if they seek to withdraw."
This is money that Rutgers likely would have used to pay the exit fee out of the Big East.
One source close to the Scarlet Knights program, speaking on the condition of anonymity to Yahoo! Sports, said that "This move is all about 2014 and Rutgers getting into the Big Ten by then." The source cited how West Virginia announced its move to the Big 12 in late October and was gone in time for the 2012 football season.
The Big East, through its spokesman, declined to comment to Yahoo! Sports on the lawsuit.
The other newest member of the Big Ten, Maryland, is being sued by its current conference, the ACC, for full payment of its $50 million exit fee.
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