West Virginia has accepted an offer to join the Big 12 Conference, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com Friday.
The Mountaineers informed the Big East Friday morning that they were leaving the league. The Big 12 is expected to officially announce the invitation later today.
The Big 12's board of directors voted Friday morning and chose West Virginia over Louisville. The Big 12 will stay at 10 schools, a source said.
On Tuesday, West Virginia had received a verbal offer to join the Big 12, but then the league put the Mountaineers on hold because the league’s board of directors wanted to perform “due diligence.”
The league was split between adding West Virginia or Louisville to replace Missouri, which is expected to leave the league for the SEC.
"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. "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."
Missouri still hasn’t officially left the Big 12. The Tigers are still negotiating an exit fee to leave the league. The SEC’s Digital Network, an official website of the SEC, accidentally posted a story Thursday night that Missouri would join the SEC on July 1, 2012.
West Virginia will join the Big 12 in 2012-13, the Big 12 announced. Missouri is expected to join the SEC next season. West Virginia will have to pay a $5 million exit fee. That figure would have been $10 million if the Mountaineers would have informed the league after Navy or Air Force joined the league, which they have not.
West Virginia is the latest team to announce it's leaving the Big East Conference. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are headed to the ACC and Big East commissioner John Marinatto has said both schools would not be able to leave until July 1, 2014.
TCU, which was scheduled to join the Big East next season, will join the Big 12 and begin play next season. The Horned Frogs were not bound by the 27-month requirement since they left the Big East before they officially joined.
With the Big 12 only taking West Virginia - and not taking Louisville as well - the Big East’s chances of retaining its BCS automatic qualifying status in 2014 is greatly improved.
The Big East is seeking a 12-team football league and is expected to issue invitations to Boise State, Air Force, Navy, Houston, SMU and Central Florida. That would increase the football membership to 11 teams.
On Friday morning, UCF's board of trustees voted unanimously to give UCF President John Hitt the authority to make decisions about conference affiliation. A day earlier, Houston's board of regents granted President Renu Khator the authority for the Cougars to change conferences. UCF and Houston are both currently in Conference USA.On Wednesday, Marinatto and associate commissioner Nick Carparelli visited Air Force officials in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Thursday visited Boise State officials in Boise.
"We appreciate the effort John Marinatto is putting forth stabilizing the Big East," Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said Friday morning. "We're in the bullpen watching this unfold, doing our due diligence waiting for the dust to settle. When it does, we'll decide what is best for Navy."
With the loss of West Virginia, the Big East would need a 12th member. Sources have told CBSSports.com that the Big East’s potential Western schools are in favor of adding BYU. It’s unknown if the Cougars would be interested, but the fact the Big 12 will stay at 10 schools may increase BYU's chances of joining the Big East as a football-only member.
Temple also is a very strong candidate as the 12th member.
The Big East could extend official invitations next week. The league’s presidents are scheduled to meet with Marinatto in Philadelphia on Tuesday.