Big East, WVU Confirm Big 12 Move

Separate statements from West Virginia University and the Big East Conference confirmed what was first reported Friday morning -- WVU will leave the Big East in favor of the Big 12. The date of that departure was the only point of contention.

The press release issued by the Big 12 and WVU indicated the Mountaineers will make the move in time for the 2012-13 athletic year. That was in direct conflict with the Big East's statement, distributed only minutes earlier, which indicated commissioner John Marinatto intends to hold firm on the league's 27-month waiting period for any exit.

Multiple sources told earlier Friday that Pittsburgh, which is also leaving the Big East to head to the ACC, was told it can avoid that delay by paying a $21 million exit fee. Those sources expected West Virginia to receive a similar offer.

If the verbiage of the Big 12's release is to be taken at face value, WVU intends to pony up to make the jump within about nine months. That option could not be confirmed by Big East director of communications Chuck Sullivan.

Sources also indicated West Virginia will receive an equal share of the Big 12's Tier 1 and Tier 2 broadcast revenue immediately upon joining the league. This separates WVU from TCU, which announced weeks ago that it would eschew the Big East in favor of the Big 12, but was not promised an equal revenue share until 2015.

A formal press conference is not expected until early next week, as most reporters who regularly cover WVU were already en route to New Jersey for the Mountaineers' football game at Rutgers when the news became official. will have more on this story throughout Friday and into the weekend.

The full press release from WVU and the Big 12 follows:

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IRVING, Texas - The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors have voted unanimously to accept West Virginia University as a full conference member effective July 1, 2012.  The Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 beginning with the 2012-13 athletic season.

West Virginia is the second new member to join the Conference since it began in 1996 after the addition of TCU earlier this month.

"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."

West Virginia University, located in Morgantown, sponsors 17 varsity sports. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming & diving and wrestling. Women's sports are basketball, cross country, gymnastics, rowing, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field and volleyball. The Mountaineers also boast a co-ed rifle squad. The Big 12 sponsors every sport the Mountaineers participate in except rifle and men's soccer.

"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."

Since its inception 15 years ago, the Big 12 has won 42 team national championships and 492 NCAA individual crowns. In addition, more than 3,700 student-athletes have earned All-America First Team accolades for their play on the field with more than 500 being recognized with Academic All-America honors.

Beginning with the 2012-13 season it is expected that the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 10 Universities – Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Big 12's footprint will encompass five states with over 36 million people. More than 4,100 student-athletes from across the United States and around the World compete annually in the 23 sports sponsored by the Conference.

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