Motions have been filed and statements have been made by both legal departments representing West Virginia University and the Big East. But, the question still lingers-can the Big East, or any conference for that matter, make a school stay that wants to leave?
We have seen time and time again coaches take their apparent "dream" job and then bolt for so-called greener pastures. Pittsburgh's Todd Graham, a former assistant coach under Rich Rodriguez in Morgantown, is just the latest. But does any one really believe he will be the last?
Rodriguez, who went to take over the football fortunes at Michigan, was held responsible for his actions and was ordered to pay $4 million dollars in damages to WVU, but the judge did not make him stay in Morgantown.
So, exactly how does Big East commissioner John Marinatto expect to be successful in his attempt to require the Mountaineers to fulfill a 27-month waiting period that would force the old gold and blue to play in a conference that it doesn't want to stay in until July 2014?
What court-other than the Supreme Court-has the power to force a school to stay in a conference? Sure, there will be damages to pay, just like those correctly imposed upon Rodriguez.
And, does any one really believe that the "highest court in the land" will somehow be asked to get involved in this issue?
It boggles the mind to read stories stating that a judge in Providence, RI-home of the Big East-is going to have the final say in whether the Mountaineers play in the Big 12 or Big East in 2012. I'm not a lawyer, but even my limited legal expertise does not allow me to believe that any state, other than the home state of that institution, has that kind of power.
As far as I can tell, the only power, if you wish to call it that, the judicial system in Rhode Island would revolve around the amount of penalties WVU would be forced to pay for the breaching of its contract with the Big East.
Contracts, by their simple nature, are broken daily in our country. Most contracts have penalties written into them explaining what a party would have to pay in order to breach its agreement. I have not read the by-laws of the Big East Conference.
Saying that, however, it would not surprise me to find some section that explains the penalties a school would face for electing to "jump ship" as Miami (Fla.), Boston College and Virginia Tech accomplished in 2003. The question surrounding the Mountaineers then is not "when" will they be allowed to play in the Big 12, but "at what cost"?
Contact Jim Butta at firstname.lastname@example.org