WVU Finds Its Heaven in Big 12

West Virginia will leave the Big East Conference and accept an invitation to join the Big 12. The Big 12 board of directors voted Friday morning to select West Virginia over Louisville and the Big 12 is expected to stay at 10 schools.

Big East associate commissioner John Paquette confirmed to UConnPlaybook.com that the conference has been notified of West Virginia's decision to leave for the Big 12.

The move by the Mountaineers had been reported earlier in the week, but was delayed by the Big 12. The Big 12 is still waiting on the official departure of Missouri, which is awaiting a formal invitation to join the Southeastern Conference.

An announcement that Missouri had joined the SEC, dated Oct. 22, was accidentally posted on the SEC website Thursday night. It was later removed. But the story said Missouri would join the SEC on July 1, 2012.

West Virginia - like Syracuse and Pittsburgh - could be in the Big East until 2014, based on the Big East's 27-month notification requirement. West Virginia will also pay a $5 million exit fee. The Big East presidents have approved an increase of the exit fee to $10 million but that doesn't kick in until the Big East adds one team - either Air Force or Navy, according to a source - in its expansion process.

Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers and South Florida are now left as the only football playing schools in the Big East. Conference presidents have charged commissioner John Marinatto with expanding the league to 12 teams. Marinatto visited with Boise State and Air Force officials earlier this week.

"This move by West Virginia does not come as a surprise," Marinatto said in a statement Friday morning. "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."

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