The West Virginia Mountaineers have accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference, it was announced today.
West Virginia will become a full member of the Big 12 on July 1, 2012. Their current conference, the Big East, requires a 27-month waiting period before leaving. The release indicates that the Mountaineers will be able to bypass that hurdle.
The Mountaineers should replace Missouri, who many expect to leave the conference for the SEC. Texas A&M left the Big 12 earlier this year and was replaced by TCU.
The departure of West Virginia leaves the Big East with only five football playing members. But the conference is expected to expand to 12 and is talking to Air Force, Boise State, Houston, Navy, SMU and UCF.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”