Reports: West Virginia To Join Big 12

Tuesday, October 25th 2011, 12:08 pm
By: News 9

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia—As the days go by, the conference realignment shakeup continues and the latest buzz says that if Missouri leaves to join the SEC, that West Virginia will leave the Big East to replace Missouri in the Big 12 Conference.

According to the Associated Press, a person with knowledge of the decision says the Big 12 has already approved the move to bring in West Virginia to replace Missouri when the Tigers complete their move to the Southeastern Conference.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the school nor the Big 12 had announced that its board of directors unanimously approved inviting West Virginia when Missouri's spot comes open.

Although Missouri hasn't formally announced its move away from the Big 12—the departure seems eminent.

Since there is no timetable for Missouri to complete its expected departure from the Big 12 -- and the league's board of directors announced that it expressed "a strong desire" for Missouri to stay during a Monday meeting -- there is no timetable for West Virginia to receive a formal invitation, the AP source said.

West Virginia will reportedly only be held to a $5 million exit fee even though the league recently doubled the conference's football exit fee to $10 million.

A source told CBS Sports that once Missouri officially announces it is withdrawing from the Big 12 that West Virginia will be extended an invitation and that the official invite could come "within 24-48 hours" after Missouri announces its departure.

If the Mountaineers join the Big 12, that means Dana Holgorsen, former OSU offensive coordinator, would be back facing the Cowboys in conference play.

The move would allow the Big 12 to maintain 10 members but is another blow to the Big East, which already has lost two members and one member-to-be in the last six weeks.

The Big East is trying to reconfigure as a 12-team football league and has been courting Boise State, Navy and Air Force as football-only members and Central Florida, SMU and Houston for all sports.

Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas has already said he expects Missouri to compete in the Big 12 in 2012, but all signs indicate Missouri is leaving and now the conference is prepared for that.

Nevertheless, reports that two Big 12 administrators said discussions between Missouri and the SEC point to the Tigers remaining in the Big 12 for the 2012-13 school year and then moving to the SEC for the 2013-14 school year and that the same source said the SEC would compete with 13 schools for the 2012-13 school year.

On Friday, the Missouri Board of Curators gave Chancellor Brady Deaton the authority to move the school out of the Big 12. The school has been considering a move to the SEC, where it would become that conference's 14th member and join Texas A&M, which made its move from the Big 12 official earlier this month.

The SEC has not publicly acknowledged interest in Missouri and Commissioner Mike Slive has said his conference was making plans to have 13 members next season, but there are scheduling problems -- especially in football -- that come with that number.