MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University and the Big East have settled their differences. All it took, as expected, was a large amount of cash.
The two sides finally announced Tuesday morning that they have agreed to part ways, ending four months of legal wrangling for what is believed to be a $20 million settlement.
Neither side would talk about specifics of the agreement - even though West Virginia law says any settlement agreement involving a public agency must be released to the public.
WVU is expected to initially be responsible for between $10 million and $11 million of the amount, with the Big 12 Conference footing the rest of the bill in the form of roughly half as a gift and the other half as a loan.
The agreement allows West Virginia to join the Big 12 on July 1 and begin playing full conference schedules -- including football -- this fall. With the WVU-Big East agreement finalized, the Big 12 announced the 2012 football schedule within an hour Tuesday morning.
Oddly, perhaps, but with future legal ramifications otherwise, the Big East's part of Tuesday morning's announcement said that West Virginia's membership in the Big East had been "terminated.''
West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck, however, was not about to argue about semantics.
"We're just delighted to be a member of the Big 12,'' Luck said when asked if he foresaw the amount of angst that developed between his school and the Big East when the decision was made to leave in October. "We're delighted they expressed an interest in us. Today's a very positive day for all Mountaineers.''
The settlement between WVU and the Big East allows the school to avoid the Big East's 27-month waiting period to exit the conference. The school announced in October that it was leaving the Big East for the Big 12 and intended to do so on July 1, 2012.
But Big East rules -- which WVU officials were instrumental in crafting during recent years -- required the school to pay a $5 million exit fee and wait 27 months to leave, which would not allow West Virginia to join the Big 12 until the 2014-15 school year.
The result was dueling lawsuits -- the first filed by WVU in Monongalia Circuit Court and the second filed by the Big East in Rhode Island, where its offices are located. As recently as last Thursday there was a status conference involving the Rhode Island suit while the sides continued to negotiate a settlement. The tentative agreement reached the next day is the one that was finalized Tuesday.
According to WVU sources, the school actually will not have to write much of a check at all to the Big East, although that is just bookkeeping and the money will still come out of the school's athletic budget.