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WVU asks judge to dismiss Big East lawsuit

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - West Virginia University on Friday asked a Rhode Island judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Big East conference over the university's bid to make a quick exit for the Big 12.

A lawyer for the university argued that the Rhode Island court lacks jurisdiction in the case and that a lawsuit the university filed in West Virginia is already proceeding.

"West Virginia University is an arm of the state of West Virginia," said Thomas Holt, a Boston-based attorney representing the university. "There is no jurisdiction of the court over West Virginia University at this time."

The Big East, based in Providence, maintains it is entitled to sue the university in its home state.

"West Virginia University has done wrong here," said Benjamin Block, a Washington D.C.-based attorney working on behalf of the conference. "They have blatantly and deliberately breached the bylaws of the Big East Conference, headquartered right here in Rhode Island."

Providence County Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein said arguments over the proper venue for the legal battle amount to attempts by both sides to claim "home-court advantage."

Silverstein said he hoped to rule next week on WVU's motion to dismiss the Rhode Island lawsuit.

The conference's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an order that West Virginia stay in the conference for 27 months.

West Virginia accepted an invitation from the Big 12 in October and hopes to join in time for the 2012 football season.

Since then the university and Big East have each sued the other and filed motions to dismiss the other's lawsuits.

WVU sued the conference in Monongalia County Circuit Court in West Virginia, seeking to invalidate Big East bylaws requiring them to give notice at least 27 months before withdrawing from the conference. A hearing on the Big East's motion to dismiss the lawsuit is scheduled for Monday.

The Big East countersued in Rhode Island four days after the university filed its suit, alleging that West Virginia helped craft the bylaws and cannot now ignore them. The Big East says an early exit by the university would do irreparable harm to the conference.

WVU has already sent half of the required $5 million exit fee to the Big East, and it contends that by accepting the down payment, the conference agreed to the immediate withdrawal.


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