WVU exercises scheduling options for next season
MORGANTOWN -- A West Virginia official said the university has not yet asked out of its 2012-13 football series with Florida State, but has told the Atlantic Coast Conference school it is an option.
Various reports over the weekend said the Mountaineers are attempting to buy their way out of the contract, but WVU Deputy Athletic Director Mike Parsons called that "premature" on Saturday.
"We've had some discussion about how we may have to do something, but we haven't done anything yet," Parsons said.
The root of the issue is WVU's conference affiliation for 2012. The Mountaineers believe they'll be in the Big 12. The Big East believes it will still have WVU as a member.
If the Big East is right, WVU then needs to add a game to its 2012 schedule, because TCU will be in the Big 12 and not the Big East. If the Mountaineers have their way, they'll play nine Big 12 games, which then creates the problem with non-conference games like Florida State.
WVU has four non-conference games scheduled for next season, but would have only three slots if it is in the Big 12. Football Bowl Subdivision teams can't play more than 12 games.
"All we've told Florida State is, 'Hey, guys, heads up. We're in the Big 12 and once that's solidified and firmed up, we may have to come back to you to have a discussion,'"Parsons said.
Ironically, the series with the Seminoles is part of the 2005 settlement agreement the Big East and ACC reached after Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left the Big East.
The Mountaineers are to play at Florida State Sept. 8 and then play host to the Seminoles in 2013. Both times, Florida State is the marquee name on the non-conference schedule.
The 2012 game has a $500,000 buyout and the 2013 game has a $350,000 buyout. The Mountaineers would have to absorb both if they cancel the series.
Parsons said the Seminoles might be the team that makes the most sense to remove. WVU plays Football Championship Subdivision member James Madison at FedEx Field Sept. 15, but Parsons said that game will stay on the schedule.
"The payout for that game and the liquidated damages are so high that there's no use having that discussion," he said.
WVU would have to pay $1 million to exit that contract. The school is guaranteed at least $2.3 million to play the game and doesn't have to pay JMU anything. A ticket incentive could generate an additional $200,000.
WVU also has a game scheduled at home against Maryland. The buyout is $500,000, but Parsons said the Terrapins are likely to stay on the schedule, too.
"Maryland, for one, is a home game," he said. "It's also a longstanding game that we would like to maintain, so we've not necessarily had that discussion with them either."
WVU opens its season Sept. 1 with Marshall in the final game in the Coal Bowl series, but that, too, is a home game likely to stay where it is, even with a buyout at just $150,000.
"Obviously, there are a lot of things that go into this decision, but nothing is finalized yet," Parsons said.
"The biggest thing with our discussions with Florida State is they're not in our region. We don't deal with them regularly. We just wanted to make sure they're aware that somewhere along the line we may have to do something."
If the 2012 game is cancelled, Parsons conceded the 2013 game could be lost as well because "it's our home game.
"I think they would say, 'If they're not coming here, we're not going there.'"
He also said the schools could agree to simply push the series back a few years. WVU would still have to pay Florida State a liquidated damage, although not as large as the $850,000 for canceling the series.
A decision on the Florida State series isn't alone on the WVU scheduling front. The school also has to consider a 2014-15 series with Michigan State, which Parsons called a "very similar situation" (to Florida State) with regards to scheduling.
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at email@example.com or 304-319-1142 His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.