Lawyers agree that Pitt has a point (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
We hit the Pitt/Big East lawsuit stuff pretty hard initially. In case you missed it, I broke down the initial announcement, Greg discussed why it was a good move, and then I took a look at the university's official statement.
But Jerry DiPaola of the Trib also got some reactions from actual lawyers on the matter. For starters, as I initially wrote, the lawyers feel like Pitt actually has a legitimate case:
"A number of things have resulted in a vastly different landscape for the Big East over the past 18 months that could further support teams departing," said Thomas F. Holt Jr. of Boston, a partner with the Pittsburgh-based law firm of K&L Gates, who led West Virginia’s effort to leave the Big East. "Pitt may very well have a good case in support of exiting the conference early," Holt said.
"I think Pitt has a point," said Chris Fusco, managing partner of Callahan and Fusco LLC in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and a legal analyst for the MSG Network.
Thing is, even if you fall on the side that thinks Pitt was wrong in leaving the conference they way it did, the fact is that they do have a point about the lawsuit, which contends the school endured financial woes by not only losing premier opponents, but having to pay to find new ones.
Where's this all end up? As I said before, more than likely, out of court.Yet another lawyer agrees:
Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at the University of Vermont, said the case probably will not go to trial and be settled out of court in the next several months.
"They will be arguing over how much money Pitt has to pay," McCann said. "This is not about emotional damages. They need to come up with a number both sides can live with."
McCann said the lawsuit gives Pitt leverage in negotiating an early exit. But he doubts either side wants to go to trial.
"You never know (how a trial will turn out)," he said. "And legal fees can become very considerable and, certainly, if there is a trial it means there is an appeal and the situation gets prolonged. Usually, neither party wants that."
I can't imagine Pitt pays a fee up to three times the $5M exit fee as is mentioned in the article, but I definitely see this ending with an agreement being reached on some amount. How much that actually is is anybody's guess, but I can't imagine the conference wants to force Pitt to remain for the duration of the contract and lose out on money they could make otherwise.