It’s official: West Virginia to join the Big 12 in 2012

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Finally, our long national nightmare is over.

After much talk and numerous legal maneuvers on both sides, both West Virginia and the Big East announced in separate press releases that a settlement agreement has been reached in the civil litigation, clearing the way for WVU to move to the Big 12 in 2012.  In its statement, the Big East wrote that its “Board of Directors has voted to terminate West Virginia University’s membership in the Conference, effective June 30, 2012.”

The move comes three and a half months after WVU officially confirmed Oct. 28 it was leaving the Big East for the Big 12.

“Our membership in the Big 12 offers WVU significant advantages,” said WVU athletic director Oliver Luck in a statement. “The Big 12 is a strong and vibrant conference academically and athletically. We look forward to the potential academic and athletic partnerships and financial opportunities that membership in the Big 12 offers.”

While the Big East would only confirm that “the payment of an exit fee well in excess of that required by the Bylaws” was part of the settlement, the conference shift will prove exact a heavy financial toll on WVU and its new conference.

As previously reported, the early move to the Big 12 will cost a total of $20 million, with WVU covering half of that figure and the Big 12 covering the other half.  WVU will reportedly repay its new conference $5 million of that $10 million, with that repayment consisting of a portion of the school’s broadcast revenues being withheld annually over a period of time.

“We are in great company in the Big 12, joining a group of world-class research universities – many of them large public land-grant flagship institutions like WVU,” WVU president Jim Clements said in his statement.  “These schools have quality academics, research, athletic programs, winning traditions and loyal, passionate fans.”

“Our partnership with the Big 12 is an investment in WVU’s future. We’re looking forward to the tremendous opportunities it presents – all across our university.”

West Virginia was one of three schools to announce last year it was leaving the Big East in the future, and there was a development regarding those other two institutions as well this morning.

According to Brett McMurphy of CBSSports.com, Pittsburgh and Syracuse will attempt to negotiate deals that would permit the two schools to leave the Big East for the ACC in 2013.  Big East bylaws technically prevent the two schools from leaving until 2014, but WVU has shown that waiting period is negotiable.

The two schools are hopeful that they can each pay an exit fee that’s half of what it took WVU to leave early.