It’s all over but the negotiation of early exit fees.
Following up on the news that the Big 12’s Board of Directors had voted to accept West Virginia as its newest member — first reported by CBS Sports.com‘s Bret McMurphy — both the Big East and WVU confirmed in separate statements that the school is indeed leaving the conference. The timing of the move remains to be determined as the twin statements/press releases do not agree on when the WVU shift will happen.
“This move by West Virginia does not come as a surprise,” said Big East commissioner John Marinatto. “League officials, members of our conference and the candidate schools to whom we have been talking were aware of this possibility. We have taken West Virginia’s possible departure into account as we have moved forward with our own realignment plans. West Virginia is fully aware that the Big East Conference is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period for members who choose to leave the conference. We are confident that in the coming weeks we will complete our own realignment program, adding a number of high-quality members to remain among the top conferences in both football and basketball.”
While the Big East “is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period”, WVU states in their release that they will become a full member of the Big 12 effective July 1, 2012. In their own release, the Big 12 writes that “[t]he Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 beginning with the 2012-13 athletic season.”
Obviously, there will be some negotiations taking place over the next several days and/or weeks, with WVU, as well as Pittsburgh and Syracuse, looking to buy their way into an early exit from the Big East. The number “$21 million” has been tossed around as a potential means of getting that early exit, but nothing’s been confirmed on that front. With the 27-month wait, the exit fee is $5 million now, $10 million after new members have been added to the Big East.
Regardless of the exact timing and the amount of money involved, however, West Virginia is leaving the Big East at some point in the future.
“The Big 12 is a perfect fit 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 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 into the Conference. This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12.”
West Virginia was an associate member of the Big East in football from 1991-94, and a full member since 1995.
The following note from the Big 12’s press release bears mentioning as well: “Beginning with the 2012-13 season it is expected that the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 10 Universities – Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia.”
Nowhere is there a mention of Missouri, which would lead one to assume that Mizzou’s departure for the SEC is very, very imminent.