West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers will be leaving the Big East in order to join the Big 12, a conference many thought was slowly bleeding out before the Texas Christian University (TCU) Bullfrogs joined the conference several weeks ago.
With the acquisition of West Virginia, the Big 12 will have an uneven eleven teams — not exactly ideal for creating a fair championship tournament within the conference.
The conference has found a solution, though. According to the NY Post, during a Big 12 board of directors meeting held yesterday, the conference has decided to invite the University of Missouri to remain a member of the conference for one more year, then replace Mizzou with WVU at the end of the year.
The conference encouraged Missouri to stay in the Big 12, interim Commissioner of the Big 12 Chuck Neinas said after the meeting. The University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton was part of the discussion among Big 12 directors. His participation in the discussion comes just days after he was given full authority on any decisions made about conference realignment. This was preceded by Deaton stepping down as the chairman of the Big 12.
According to the Campus Corner, the Kansas City Star blog about university sports, Deaton said that he'll be revealing Mizzou's decision about conference realignment in days or possibly a week or two.
The New York Times has called WVU the Big East's flagship football program, and says that losing the Mountaineers may hurt the conference's ability to hold onto an automatic Bowl Championship Series (BCS) spot. The Big East is now reportedly scrambling to make a move in order to stabilize its football program. The Times reports that the Big East is putting together a 12-team football conference, which would include the Air Force, Navy and Boise State.
Even after the deals are announced, the transitions could take a long time. One potential hangup could be the 27-month stay required of teams leaving the Big East for another conference. That could keep WVU a part of the Big East until 2014. Another obstacle to the move is Missouri's ability to negotiate an exit fee with the Big 12. While the details are worked out, fans are left waiting, but official announcements should be available within the next few weeks.