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Big 12 schedule still under wraps

MORGANTOWN - The verbal agreement between West Virginia and the Big East Conference that will allow the school to join the Big 12 on July 1 still has some details to be ironed out and has removed one of the major hurdles in announcing the 2012 Big 12 football schedule.

It hasn't removed all of the hurdles, however.

Despite the tentative agreement, the Big 12 still has not released the league's 2012 football schedule. Published reports Thursday in Texas had indicated that it would be finalized and announced Friday.

"There are other issues, not just ours,'' a WVU source said. "I don't know when we'll have the schedule, but we were told [Friday] morning not to expect it [Friday].''

On Thursday, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said it was his understanding that the schedule was ready to be released, but also indicated that discussions about various adjustments within that schedule - adjustments aside from the WVU issue - were still taking place as recently as Wednesday night.

Apparently they have not all been worked out.

West Virginia officials know the basics regarding their portion of the schedule, but are remaining quiet because of the possibility of change. The Mountaineers do seem certain that of the Big 12's traditional marquee teams, Texas and Oklahoma, one will play in Morgantown this season. The most common speculation is that it will be Oklahoma that visits Mountaineer Field.

WVU officials are also hoping to start Big 12 play with a five-game league home schedule, rather than four. Because there are 10 schools in the league, the nine-game schedules can't be balanced, as was the case in the eight-team Big East. So schools will alternate five-game and four-game home schedules each year.

A five-game Big 12 home schedule would certainly benefit West Virginia, which is expected to have to pay at least $11 million to escape the Big East. WVU makes roughly $1 million from home football games, and a five-game league home slate would mean seven home games this season. The Mountaineers also have non-conference games against Marshall and Maryland and a game at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., against James Madison, which is expected to generate as much or more profit as a home game after expenses.

West Virginia is also on the hook for a $500,000 buyout for canceling a game at Florida State next season. There appears a chance that could be mitigated, however, depending upon the opponent FSU finds to replace the Mountaineers. Then again, Florida State officials have also made rumblings about filing suit against WVU for additional damages if a suitable replacement cannot be found.

As for the settlement with the Big East, those details still remain sketchy and some details and paperwork still must be worked out. But the basic agreement, according to WVU sources and those elsewhere, is that the Big East will get $20 million.

West Virginia sources have told the Gazette that West Virginia's "cash settlement'' to the Big East will be $11 million. Where the remaining $9 million comes from is unclear, although the Big 12 has expressed a willingness in recent weeks to consider helping with the tab. If the Big 12 does pitch in, a portion of it could come in the form of a direct payment on behalf of the Big 12 and/or its member schools and a portion could be in the form of a loan to WVU that would be repaid in the future, perhaps through reduced shares in Big 12 revenue sharing.

West Virginia is already on a gradual revenue sharing track with the Big 12 as part of its membership agreement. The school will receive a 50 percent share in the first year, rising to 67 percent in the second year, 85 percent in the third year and 100 percent in the fourth year.

Still, even the 50 percent share in the first year is expected to be in the same ballpark as the approximate $7 million WVU now receives from the Big East.

There also exists the possibility that some of the $9 million given to the Big East above and beyond WVU's $11 million cash settlement could come in the form of current payments due West Virginia from the Big East that could be withheld, including but not limited to Bowl Championship Series revenue from the 2011 football season.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

 


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