West Virginia’s Big East Exit is a Winner for all Involved

West Virginia’s Big East Exit is a Winner for all Involved
  • Opening Intro -

    There is no denying that there is big money in college sports.

    To think otherwise would be overlooking the billions of dollars annually derived from ticket sales, merchandise rights and media revenue. W

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College sports and the money trail.

hich is exactly why West Virginia’s $20 million early exit fee from the Big East Conference will prove to be chump change in the years to come.

Terms of Endearment

On Friday, the Big East Conference and the University of West Virginia announced that both parties came to an agreement whereby the conference will not hold the university to the its required 27 month exit notice rule. Instead, West Virginia will officially become part of the Big 12 Conference on July 1 and begin to play football and all sports starting with the 2012-2013 academic year.

The $20 million exit fee is a huge one and something West Virginia sought to have reduced or eliminated, noting that Texas Christian University backed off from joining the Big East without penalty. Two other schools, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, are following West Virginia on the exit ramp out of the Big East, but those schools — both bound for the ACC — have decided to wait things out. At least for now.

Financial Settlement

The West Virginia deal has the university contributing $11 million to the Big East with the Big 12 adding $9 million. The Big 12’s contribution makes sense as it stands to benefit from West Virginia’s quick exit at the Big East’s expense. The Big East will be filling the West Virginia hole by expanding itself, but that won’t happen until 2013 at the earliest. With just seven football playing schools in the conference the remaining teams will be at least one game short this season. That’s a problem that won’t be easily resolved, but one solution is to allow the remaining teams to play home and home games with another Big East team. As it stands right now, Rutgers and Syracuse may do just that, with the second game not counting in the Big East standings.

The financial blow to West Virginia will likely be made up quickly with a much better Big 12 television contract helping to recoup those funds, giving West Virginia a broader audience than it has had in the Big East. The Big East will use some of that money to restructure, perhaps compensating some schools that may have to give up a home game to secure a 12th opponent. Funds might also be used to compensate other conferences in exchange for allowing Big East bound schools such as Boise State and Memphis to exit their respective leagues sooner.

BCS Qualifying

One factor that has not been resolved and has contributed to the seismic shift we have been seeing in conference relocating are BCS bids. The Big East has an automatic bid to this lucrative post season bowl with a chance to play in the national championship game. The BCS has done much to get schools to jump including West Virginia as it realized that the Big East’s automatic qualifying selection was in jeopardy.

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Categories: NCAA Football