May 12, 2012

Pitt Gets Impatient With Big East

Filed under: Big East,Conference,Money — Chas @ 10:59 am

Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this.

The University of Pittsburgh filed a lawsuit Friday in Allegheny County Court in an effort to leave the Big East after the 2012-13 academic year, one season earlier than required by the conference.

Pitt also asked for unspecified monetary damages, according to a 34-page court filing.

Pitt maintains the Big East relinquished its required 27-month waiting period for departing members by not holding West Virginia and TCU to the standard when they announced last year they were leaving the conference, the lawsuit states.

Apparently Pitt had begun negotiations with now-deposed Big East Commish John Marinatto about Pitt getting out after the 2012-13 season — as was widely expected. The problem was, talks had abruptly ended a few weeks ago. Something that shouldn’t be a surprise in light of Marinatto’s firing since according to the reports of Marinatto’s demise, the firing “had been building for weeks.”As such, it should be no surprise that the Big East powers started cutting off Marinatto’s authority.

And in fact, the Pitt press release on the matter seems to indicate as much.

“A few weeks ago, [Pitt athletic director] Steve Pederson met with [Big East commissioner] John Marinatto to begin the process to work toward an exit after this upcoming academic year,” according to the statement. “The commissioner indicated that he was doing this with the authorization of the Chair of the Big East Presidents. However, attempts to contact the Big East in the following weeks to move the process forward have been unsuccessful, leading us to conclude that negotiations would not occur.”

While still an athletic member of the conference, with Pitt leaving the conference they do not have any contact with the conference workings any more. As such, they would not have been privy to the “why” Marinatto and the Big East would not discuss the matter at this time. That would explain why they began working on a lawsuit shortly after the silence in negotiations.

It strikes me as a bit impatient by Pitt, after learning that Marinatto was out this week. But apparently, since Pitt had finished putting the claim together, they went for it.

The other aspect is the complaint for damages. That strikes me as part of the negotiation to get the exit fee as close to the $5 million number as possible. AD Steve Pederson has been emphatic that Pitt has no interest in paying more than $5 million to go, even with leaving a year earlier than the terms stipulate.

…sharing revenue received by the conference in the 2011-12 conference year, including money received from TCU and WVU; and reimbursement for damages such as the fees Pitt paid to secure the lost home games with TCU and WVU and to secure replacement games with lesser rivals, the lost ticket sales from disappointed fans, court costs and other financial losses.

Pitt states in its complaint that in addition to the $5 million fee it must pay to withdraw from the conference, it has lost $520,000 in buyout fees and game fees as a result of the Big East’s decision to allow TCU to withdraw.

Under terms of the Big East (and most conferences) once you give notice of leaving, you forfeit rights to a lot of the shared income the conference distributes. This would include NCAA Tournament appearance money, shares of the bowl money, and so on.

This case will never go to trial. It forces the Big East to come to the table with Pitt sooner than they wanted. They have a lot on their plate at the moment. Boise State might be getting cold feet. The conference has to find a new commissioner. They have their media rights deal to negotiate.

From the Big East side of things, this is almost like spiking the ball. The conference is in renewed turmoil. The ACC — where Pitt and Cuse are headed — just announced a nice bump in their media rights. And now Pitt is demanding they deal with them right now.

If the playoff negotiations result in a conference winner rule, FSU stays. If not, they’re gone.

Comment by Chris 05.14.12 @ 11:53 am

Found this that helps explain 3rd tier rights.

link to

Comment by giveitarest 05.14.12 @ 12:42 pm

@giveitarest, good link!

@EMEL, we most always agree, but, I’m still sour on the Pitt to the Big 12.

I don’t like the geography, but, no matter what anyone says, Texas, Okie could be gone to another conference in a second, or Texas could go independent any time.

Yes, they have a contract, but, one thing we all should have learned by now, even up here in the North East, is that Texas does what Texas wants, and Texas is looking out for no one, except Texas.

Personally, I love the ACC for football. I think there are plenty of “big boys” in the conference that we can work on attaining their status.

No, not the SEC, but plenty of room to improve our program, and plenty of good teams.

As long as it stays like this.

If FSU, Miami, Va Tech, Ga Tech or Clemson leave, and we replace them with Rutgers, UCONN, USF and Cincinnati, then ya, send me to the vomitorium!!!

After reading “giveitarests” link, it looks like the BOT guy, really spoke without knowing the facts.

Anyhow, hope all is well down in the Carolinas. Still haven’t been down, hopefully end of summer maybe??

Comment by Dan 05.14.12 @ 1:07 pm

First off, Florida State is only in the ACC because of their football prowess. Academically, they are at the bottom of the ACC. My opinion, if FSU want’s to bolt to the Big 12, let them go.

The ACC is a quality conference and Pitt belongs in the ACC.

Let’s forget about who Pitt plays this year. I hope Pitt win’s all their games and get’s a BCS offer. Next season though, I’d like Pitt to be an official member of the ACC.

Regardless of how the major conferences shape out, Pitt belongs in the ACC and will do well there. HTP!

Comment by MariettaMike 05.14.12 @ 2:04 pm

I hope FSU leaves & makes room for UConn, but I extremely doubt that will happen. FSU alums are disappointed that FSU hasn’t been a top 10 team in many years, & think they will be if they leave the ACC. They won’t be. The Big 12 is not a good fit. The SEC would be but the Gators don’t want them there!

Comment by Mindoz 05.14.12 @ 6:51 pm

[…] fact is, Pitt only filed that lawsuit in mid-May. Two months ago. I know it seems longer, but that it really isn’t. That put all negotiations […]

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