After months of lawsuits, threats and fighting, the divorce between West Virginia and the Big East is final.
West Virginia will begin its new conference membership with the Big 12 this summer — and it only cost the university $20 million.
According to ESPN, West Virginia will pay $10 million and the Big 12 will pay $10 million to break the Mountaineers contract with the Big East that would have kept them in the conference for 27 months from the time they announced their intentions to join the Big 12.
"This closes a chapter and opens a new one filled with exciting possibilities for WVU's future," West Virginia director of athletic Oliver Luck said in a statement. "I've heard from Mountaineer fans across the country who have made it very clear that they are proud and honored to be heading into the Big 12."
Luck guaranteed that no state or taxpayer money would be used to help pay West Virginia's debt, but would not disclose where the university planned to get the cash.
The settlement ends more than four months of struggle that started with West Virginia filing a lawsuit against the Big East claiming that the conference had failed to remain the conference that members were promised. The conference countersued in an attempt to enforce its bylaw that stated a program had to stay in the conference 27 months after giving notice of a conference change.
But last month, it was clear both sides wanted to come to a resolution, especially as the Big East started to cultivate its new membership.
While the Big East does fair well with its $20 million windfall, it now faces the daunting task of trying to put together the 2012 football schedule with just seven football teams. It's possible conference rivals might be forced to play each other twice to make up for the scheduling gap.
Marinatto told the Washington Post that one of the Big East's new teams — Boise State, San Diego State, SMU, Houston, Central Florida and Memphis — who were all slated to join the conference in 2013, could join next season, but declined to say which team.
With West Virginia out, the Big East is now also considering allowing Pittsburgh and Syracuse to depart for the 2013 season. The two schools were set to join the ACC in 2014.
Big East commissioner John Marinatto told the Washington Post the Big East's recent expansion efforts have allowed the conference to fill the voids left by the two schools and they no longer need them to stay the full 27 months.
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Graham Watson is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow her @Yahoo_Graham
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