See, there’s this thing about the entire situation in which West Virginia found itself over the past year, leading to its decision to leave the Big East and jump to the Big 12, which I had always viewed as a necessary evil.
The problem was, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was.
It seemed that for practical purposes — geographical and the best road to what we had all been told was the ultimate goal, winning a national championship in something other than rifle — the Big East was the proper place to be.
It wasn’t until today — yesterday, to you, as you read this, when the terms of WVU’s settlement that freed it to proceed to the Big 12 were made public — that it hit me. It was right there at the top of the document entitled “Settlement Agreement,” right there in paragraph (2), which read:
“The BIG EAST Conference, a not-for-profit corporation with its headquarters in Providence, R.I., (the ‘BIG EAST’ or the ‘Conference’) and ...”
We need go no further for the purposes we are using this part of the settlement document for because the point already has been made.
Now, you ask, what point? I’m sure you are somewhat baffled, as am I, for if “The BIG EAST Conference” or “BIG EAST” or the “Conference” is “not-for-profit,” then doesn’t it defeat its entire purpose for WVU to be giving it $20 million?
How hard will that make it for the Big East to live within its charge of not turning a profit if, as this settlement calls for, WVU takes no money out of the league for the 2010-11 year, a year in which it earned the league $18 million when it won the Orange Bowl?
But then again, maybe the schlemiel behind this mess in the Big East Conference, Commissioner John Marinatto, will just have to give himself a raise from the $732,000 or so he was earning at last report to see the league reach the “heights” it has reached.
It is as gross an injustice as there is in sports that Marinatto can be paid that kind of money in a sport in which the athletes are not paid as you will find anywhere on the sporting scene. Indeed, for WVU to be paying anything to escape the mismanagement and the disintegration of the Big East is almost as insane as is the money the school will earn by so doing ... upward of $18 million a year in the Big 12.
At least there is no mirage at WVU of being a “nonprofit” organization, for they have walked around so much with the palm of their hand turned toward the sky that it is permanently sunburned, and that certainly will not stop now, even with the new-found riches.
The release of the document that outlines the terms of the settlement proves nothing more than that WVU — from its very top — leaks more than any boat ever termed a “leaking Lena.” Indeed, in return for acknowledging that the Big East bylaws are valid and enforceable, enabling them to extort money out of other schools, such as Pitt, who seek early departure from the conference, WVU was granted a relatively neat and affordable departure and leaked every bit of it to the media.
A total of $20 million is not outrageous, especially as it is to be paid.
With $2.5 million, half the league exit fee, already having been paid and with the Big 12 offering up $10 million, of which half will be repaid by WVU over time, not beginning until at least 2014-15, it is an easy out.
The rest, which is another $7.5 million or $8 million?
The Big East will withhold WVU’s earning for this athletic year as payment. If the amount it withholds is more that the difference, WVU will be paid the overage. If it is short of what is required, WVU will write a check ... but it will not come out of public funds.
Either way, what do they say, you don’t miss what you don’t have, and if WVU never has that money it shouldn’t really miss it.
Besides, it goes to a good cause, escaping the hell hole that the Big East had become, especially in football.
Football turns the wheel in big-time college athletics and all you have to know is that the Big East went from a conference that once had Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia and now has none of them. The group that left over the years would make a better conference than most ... and in fact once did.
The league had deteriorated into a national joke, a mishmash of San Diego State and Boise State and Memphis and Central Florida and who knows what else, created that way because of a lack of foresight and daring by its leadership who were unable to keep its assets safe.
It is and always has been a basketball-driven conference that saw football roar past its basketball both in popularity and economics and had no idea how to deal with it.
It was being run in such a way that it would surely eventually be true to its charter, which demanded it be not-for-profit, and it is destined to eventually wind up a second-tier football conference.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.