First comes expansion. Then come the lawsuits.
The ACC has already sued Maryland to try and force the Terrapins to pay the entire league exit fee of more than $50 million before leaving for the Big Ten. And now Rutgers is suing the Big East over its exit fee, colleague Andrea Adelson reports.
The Scarlet Knights are trying to get out of the Big East's more manageable but still pricey $10 million buyout, along with its mandated 27-month waiting period, so they can join the Big Ten by 2014.
Rutgers says in its law suit that the Big East fee "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." The league allowed Syracuse, Pittsburgh, TCU and West Virginia to leave for other conferences without waiting the required 27 months, and the lawsuit alleges that the Big East has failed to collect $39.5 million in withdrawal fees from those departing schools.
If Rutgers were not able to get out of the waiting period, it could not become a full Big Ten member until the summer of 2015. The school's athletic department also is dealing with some financial problems, so $10 million is not chump change to the Scarlet Knights right now.
It's hard to imagine how the Big East could enforce those penalties on Rutgers when it couldn't do so for previous schools that have left, however. I still believe Rutgers will be on board in the Big Ten for the 2014 season.
But first, lawsuit season will have to play out.