This past week, West Virginia University was officially accepted into the Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers were voted in unanimously during a teleconference call involving the Big 12’s Board of Directors on Friday morning and are expected to leave the Big East Conference and become a full member in Big 12 athletics starting July 1, 2012. The move to add West Virginia resulted from the anticipated departure of the University of Missouri from the Big 12. The admission process for West Virginia was first put on hold because of a late push by the University of Louisville and Senator Mitch McConnell, who desired acceptance into the Big 12. Texas A&M will be starting play in the Southeastern Conference next summer as well.
West Virginia was a founding member of the Big East during its inception in 1991. Its football program has the most FBS victories without ever having won a national championship and has made it to two BCS bowl games. Its other various athletics, such as the men’s and women’s basketball teams, have also had success over the last few years.
“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,” said Burns Hargis, the chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors. “This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12.“
Though both the Big 12 and West Virginia have agreed to July 1 as the day that West Virginia officially joins the conference, the Big East has bylaws requiring a 27-month waiting period before the teams can leave the conference. The departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference have been delayed by these laws.
However, James Clements, President for West Virginia University, does not seem too concerned about the laws.
“Our intent is clearly July 1 we’ll be a member of the Big 12,” Clements said on Friday. “We’re in discussions with the Big East regarding how we make that happen.”
Though this movement may have caused a bit of drama over the last week between the conferences, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin may have summed up the feelings of the West Virginia University community best when he told the Associated Press, “It’s a great day to be a Mountaineer.”