IRVING, Texas – The Big 12 Board of Directors has unanimously voted to accept West Virginia into the conference effective July 1, 2012.
The conference announced the vote Friday and says the Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 starting in the 2012-13 athletic season.
"We are excited to add West Virginia to our exceptional lineup of Conference members," said Big 12 Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas. "They bring an excellent overall athletic program to the Big 12 and allow the league to expand into an area that boasts a passionate group of fans and alumni throughout its region."
"The Big 12 is a perfect for West Virginia University," said WVU President Dr. James P. Clements. "It is a strong conference that, like WVU, values quality academic and athletic programs, and has a great tradition of success. This is a very exciting time for WVU and Mountaineer nation. I am confident that the future of WVU athletics has never been more promising."
The Mountaineers are the second member to join the Big 12 since it began in 1996 after TCU joined the conference earlier this month.
Related Story: Big 12 Votes To Add TCU
The Big 12 Presidents and Chancellors are excited to welcome another outstanding institution to the conference," said Burns Hargis, Chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors and President of Oklahoma State University. "The addition of West Virginia, while expanding the reach of the Big 12, brings an impressive institution with esteemed academics and a proud athletic tradition to the Conference. This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12."
President Clements confirmed that WVU paid the $2.5 million initial payment with its letter of withdraw to the Big East. He said the remaining $2.5 million will be paid upon completion of withdraw to complete the total $5 million exit fee that is specified in Big East policy.
The Big 12 also stated in the press release Friday that it expects the conference to be comprised of 10 teams in 2012-2013 and it did not list Missouri as one of those teams.
Missouri has been contemplating a move to the SEC although no final decision has been made.
The biggest hurdle now is the when--when will West Virginia actually become a team in the Big 12.
The reason this is cause for concern is because the Big East has a 27-month notification to leave period. The conference says it plans on enforcing that rule and has said in the past that a team withdrawing now can't leave until June 1, 2014—even though the Big 12 and West Virginia said Friday they will join forces in July 2012.
Although many tried to address this during the teleconference Friday afternoon both President Clements and Oliver Luck would not comment further on the discrepancy between the two start dates. Both stuck to the fact that they plan on being in the Big 12 on July 1, 2012 and said that WVU is in discussion with the Big East conference office.
Nevertheless, multiple fans and Big 12 universities have expressed their congratulations for the Mountaineers joining the conference via Twitter.
"Welcome to the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia. Great addition with a strong football program and an impressive institution," tweeted OSU head coach Mike Gundy.
Former OSU offensive coordinator and now WVU head football coach Dana Holgorsen also expressed his excitement about the move saying: "Tremendous opportunity for WVU athletics and fans! I look forward to once again competing in the Big 12."
West Virginia University, located in Morgantown has 17 varsity sports that include:
Men's Sports: Football, Basketball, Baseball, Soccer, Swimming & Diving, Wrestling
Women's Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Gymnastics, Rowing, Soccer, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field and Volleyball.
The Big 12 sponsors every sport the Mountaineers participate in except the rifle squad and men's soccer.