Joining Process

Officials from West Virginia University and the Big 12 Conference released some details of WVU's admission to the league, but a number of issues, including the all-important Big East buyout, remain unresolved.

All four members of the conference call, including Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, Oklahoma State president and president of the Big 12 Board of Directors Burns Hargis, WVU president Jim Clements and Director of Athletics Oliver Luck said that West Virginia plans to be a full participating member of the Big 12 on July 1, 2012. However, the Big East's position is that the Mountaineers must remain in the league for 27 months from today, when WVU delivered official notification to the league that it is withdrawing.

"We are very excited about July 1, 2012 to join the conference," Luck said, reiterating the date twice in his opening statements.

Both Big 12 officials supported that view in their statements and at various times during the 40-minute long press conference, saying that the league was confident West Virginia would be a full member in 2012.

Neither Luck nor Clements would comment on specifics of negotiations to get West Virginia out of the Big East before the 27-month period, other than to say talks were underway between WVU and the Big East.

"Our intent is to be a member of Big 12,and our team and their team are in discussions on how to make it happen," Luck said.

Clements confirmed that an initial payment of $2.5 million was transferred to the Big East today, with the remaining $2.5 million to be sent "when the process is concluded."

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A number of other issues were discussed and addressed briefly during the conference. Neinas and Hargis did not comment on Missouri's impending departure from the league, referring all questions about its status to the school. Neinas did say that as of this moment, Missouri was still a member of the Big 12.

Other items included:

  • WVU will have the same graduated payouts from Tier 1 and Tier 2 television rights as TCU. WVU will earn 50% of the payout of $17 million in 2012, 67% 2013-14 and 84% in 2014 before reaching the full 100% payout level in 2015.

  • Neinas said that delay in finalizing WVU's approval came from the realization that if West Virginia joined and Missouri decided to stay, the Big 12 would have 11 members. Neinas said it was decided to make sure that was known and understood by the Board of Directors before finalizing the agreement.

  • The grant of Tier 1 and Tier 2 television rights by all schools in the league is set for six years, and is being circulated now for signature by all schools, including WVU.

    "We expect final approval on that," Neinas said.

  • Scheduling for the 2012 season and beyond remains unfinalized. Neinas said that WVU would not automatically slide into Missouri's spot on the schedule.

    "We will have to take a look at schedule, and there will have to be some recalculation," he said. "We won't have to start from scratch, but there will have to be some work on the schedule."

    Likewise, West Virginia will have to drop one of its four scheduled non-conference games currently on the 2012 slate if it is successful in moving to the Big 12 for the 2012 season. WVU would play nine Big 12 conference games and would need to move or drop a contest with James Madison, Maryland, Marshall or Florida State.

    Neinas noted that the Big 12 is set to be a ten member conference at this time and play a full round-robin schedule in football.

    "Right now there is no sentiment for the Big 12 going back to a championship game," he added.

  • Luck noted that WVU remains "highly committed" to men's soccer, and mentioned Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference as two nearby leagues with strong membership. WVU is expected to pursue membership for its men's soccer program in one of those two leagues, as the Big 12 does not offer men's soccer as a championship sport.

  • The Big 12 does not have have a policy on beer sales. Luck said that issue is one that will be addressed in the future.

  • Neinas downplayed the attention given to the "airport factor" in that Morgantown does not have an airfield big enough to land large charter planes such as those used for football.

    "To a degree, that was overblown," he said, listing driving times times to schools such as former Big 12 member Colorado and current members Oklahoma and Iowa State. "And you don't have to go to Pittsburgh. You can go to Clarksburg."

  • Clements noted that WVU had no qualms about committing to the Big 12, despite some shaky recent times that included a possible breakup of the league.

    "The Big 12 is very solid and very stable," The Big 12 is a great fit for us. It's very strong, and has loyal and passionate fans. It is a real privilege to be invited."

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