West Virginia will set precedent

The Big East and West Virginia have yet to work out their legal dispute as to when the Mountaineers can leave the Big East and join the Big 12, but there is a status hearing set for Thursday in the case filed in Rhode Island. Big East blogger Andrea Adelson got two legal experts to help answer some questions, and the last one is very important to the ACC:

What type of precedent does it set for Pitt and Syracuse should West Virginia be allowed to leave early?

Christian Dennie, a former NCAA compliance officer who now practices sports law in Fort Worth, Texas: Whether by settlement or court order, this matter will set a precedent. If by settlement, other schools will know what they are negotiating against. If by court order, the schools or conference will point to the ruling as support.

The ACC is ready and waiting for Pitt and Syracuse to join, and West Virginia's case is worth following because it could impact the timeline of its departure from the Big East. If the Mountaineers find a way to escape, it will be much more tempting for Pitt and Syracuse to try to follow for 2012.

Prediction: This is purely a guess, but I'll predict the ACC welcomes Pitt and Syracuse in 2013 -- especially if WVU gets its way in 2012. Even if West Virginia leaves this fall, I think Pitt and Syracuse would feel bound by a moral obligation not to bolt without fulfilling at least part of the Big East's required 27-month notification period. However, the Mountaineers would give Pitt and Syracuse leverage to join in 2013 instead of waiting until 2014 -- especially with Memphis now joining the Big East in 2013.