Big East sues West Virginia

The Big East followed through with its promise to hold West Virginia to rules about leaving the conference, filing a breach of contract lawsuit Friday.

The lawsuit was filed in Providence County Superior Court and seeks an order requiring West Virginia to comply with conference bylaws. It also seeks unspecified damages resulting from the school's attempt to withdraw from the conference.

It is the latest development in an increasingly bitter legal fight over conference membership.

Last week it was revealed West Virginia would join the Big 12 Conference starting with the 2012-13 season -- the fourth school to defect from the Big East in the last two months.

The Big East responded by saying it would enforce a conference bylaw that says an institution must give 27 months notice before leaving, prompting West Virginia to sue the conference Monday.

On Tuesday, after the annual meeting of the conference's presidents, Big East commissioner John Marinatto said in a statement that the conference would continue to hold WVU to the bylaw and explore "all its legal options."

Then came the countersuit.

"Today's legal action underscores the Big East Conference's stated position that it will vigorously pursue the enforcement of its rights and West Virginia University's obligations under the conference's bylaws which West Virginia formally agreed to and helped construct," Marinatto said in a statement Friday.

The Big East has undergone rampant changes over the last two months. Syracuse and Pittsburgh were accepted into the ACC while TCU, which was set to join the conference next year, instead accepted an invitation to the Big 12.

The conference also plans to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to its departure policy, though TCU can begin play in the Big 12 next year since it never actually participated in the Big East.

In response to the departures, the Big East announced earlier this week that it would invite a host of other schools to join the conference.