Big East Sues Texas Christian Over Failed Membership Deal

The Big East Conference sued Texas Christian University for $5 million, claiming the school reneged on an agreement to join the college sports organization and instead signed on with the Big 12.

The Big East Conference, whose 16 members include Rutgers University, Georgetown University and Villanova University, said in a complaint filed in federal court in Washington today that Texas Christian committed to pay $5 million if it failed to follow through with the membership agreement reached on Nov. 29, 2010.

“TCU administrators were surprised by this lawsuit and believe it is premature,” Texas Christian said in a statement. “The University is hopeful for an amicable resolution of this matter.”

The school, based in Fort Worth, Texas, was slated to join the conference this July and compete in 20 sports starting with the 2012-2013 season.

“We’re headed into a realm, an arena that we’ve always dreamed about,” Texas Christian Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said when the deal was announced. “If you allow yourself to dream for a little bit, to pinch yourself, it’s unbelievable. It is a great time to be a Frog.”

The school, with about 9,000 students, was ranked third in the Bowl Championship Series standings the week they announced the agreement, behind top-ranked Auburn and No. 2 Oregon. The move was intended to bolster Big East’s roster of football teams and ensure it remained among the conferences that receive automatic berths into one of the five BCS bowls leading up to the national title game.

Turbulent Time

The agreement came at a turbulent time for college athletics, though, as schools jumped from one conference to the next, unleashing complaints from fans and faculties as decades old rivalries and academic alliances were uprooted.

Then on Oct. 6, 2011, Texas Christian announced that it had changed its mind about the Big East and was accepting an invitation from the Big 12 effective July 1. Members of the Big 12 included schools that were more geographically suited such as the University of Texas, University of Oklahoma, Baylor University, Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University.

“The Big East made demand for the payment owed under the agreement, but Texas Christian University has refused to make that payment or acknowledge its obligation to do so,” the conference alleged in the complaint.

The case is The Big East Conference v. Texas Christian University, 1:21-cv-00953, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Editors: Fred Strasser, Larry Siddons