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Wednesday, November 30, 2011
WVU seeks to dismiss Big East's lawsuit

Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia is seeking to dismiss a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by the Big East after the university sued the conference in a bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12.

West Virginia filed a motion Tuesday in Providence County Superior Court in Rhode Island. A clerk said Wednesday a hearing date hasn't been set.

The motion says the court lacks jurisdiction over WVU and the university has sovereign immunity from lawsuits as an agency of the state of West Virginia. It also says WVU filed a lawsuit involving similar facts in Monongalia County four days before the conference's suit.

"The Big East's hasty filing is an entirely unwarranted attempt to sidestep the jurisdiction of the West Virginia Circuit Court," the motion said.

It said the state of West Virginia has "an immediate and compelling interest" in the dispute's outcome.

The conference's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order that West Virginia stay in the conference for 27 months. Big East Commissioner John Marinatto noted in the lawsuit that West Virginia helped construct the bylaws and agreed to them.

A Big East spokesman declined comment Wednesday on the motion, which was first reported by The Charleston Gazette.

West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 last month and wants to join for the 2012 season. The university filed a lawsuit Oct. 31 claiming the conference breached its fiduciary duty to West Virginia by failing to maintain a balance between football-playing and non-football members.

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said Wednesday that the university is sticking to its plans.

"We're preparing for life in the Big 12 beginning in '12," he said.

West Virginia has already sent half of the required $5 million exit fee to the Big East. The university alleged that by accepting the down payment on the exit fee, the Big East agreed to West Virginia's immediate withdrawal.

The Big East has yet to respond to WVU's lawsuit, according to the Monongalia County Circuit Clerk's office in Morgantown. A status conference in that case is set for Thursday.