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Big 12 introduces WVU, says no future expansion on horizon

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Representatives from the Big 12 and West Virginia held a teleconference this afternoon welcoming WVU as the 10th member of the league, and to answer questions about the decision-making process.

It’s been a hellacious week for WVU, who appeared to be on their way to the Big 12 as early as Wednesday. But reports that Louisville was making a late surge to overtake the Mountaineers caused the decision to be delayed until today. If you felt a breeze at all, it was probably the collective sigh of relief coming from the state of West Virginia, which wanted nothing more than to leave the sinking life boat that is the Big East conference.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous,” WVU AD Oliver Luck admitted.

Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas hardly made mention of Louisville this evening or indicated that there was political pressure from senator Mitch McConnell, a Louisville graduate, about the Cardinals becoming the Big 12’s 10th member. On the contrary, Neinas said the “mystery” surrounding Missouri and the possibility of an 11-game schedule caused the 72-hour hold-up.

“We were moving forward, and we came across the fact that if we were to add a new member, and if Missouri remained or delayed their departure, we would ahve to look at an 11 member conference,” Neinas explained. “As a result, the [expansion] Executive Committee shared that info with the Board of Directors.

“The athletic directors and the Board of Directors agreed to move forward with 10 members… Expansion is not on the horizon.”

Speaking of the Tigers, Neinas wouldn’t comment on Missouri’s status.

And what about the rumor that getting to Morgantown was a central problem for Big 12 teams? “Blown out of proportion,” answered Neinas.

Wherever WVU will be departing from — Neinas mentioned the airport in Bridgeport, a half hour away from Morgantown — they hope to be doing so in 2012. In fact, Luck mentioned twice that WVU looked forward to being a member of the Big 12 “beginning July 1, 2012.” That date would be contrary to the one mentioned in a press release by the Big East, which has maintained they will hold WVU to the same 27-month waiting period as Pitt and Syracuse, who are leaving for the ACC.

When asked about getting out of that waiting period, Luck said “Our team and their are in discussions about how to work that out.”

As far as finances are concerned, WVU confirmed they sent $2.5 million in a wire transfer to the Big East today as part of the $5 million buyout. They will send the rest upon leaving. One of the reasons WVU wanted to leave the Big East as soon as possible was to avoid paying any more in exit fees. Big East presidents agreed to raising exit fees to $10 million, but the amount hasn’t been enforced yet. What amounts WVU will have to pay for leaving before the 27-month waiting period — if they can get out before then — remains unclear.

When WVU does get into the Big 12, they’ll be a part of a revenue distribution model similar to TCU’s, despite previous reports to the contrary. The Big 12 needs to stay at 10 members in order to fulfill their obligation with the Big 12 Network and to stay viable with their TV partners, so getting WVU to the Big 12 ASAP is a priority.

“Our TV partners and bowl partners are elated about the addition of West Virginia,” Neinas said. “West Virginia’s going to be on any [conference's] list.”

But, for a while, it looked like WVU might get left out in the conference realignment cold. The ACC showed no interest in WVU (they never have and never will), and West Virginia simply doesn’t have the TV market the SEC desires. It wasn’t until Pitt and Syracuse left for the ACC in September that WVU said they began evaluating their options.

“Clearly when Pitt and Syracuse chose to leave, all the remaining Big East schools had to take a step back and think about what was best for each individual school,” WVU president James Clements said.

Up until this week, WVU had remained one of the quietest programs in college football on the realignment front, and you can bet that was a premeditated approach. For having no natural TV market or recruiting grounds, and without being considered a top-notch academic institution, a ton of credit needs to be given to Luck and Clements for selling the Big 12 on the brand of WVU athletics.

Say what you will about the Stewart/Holgorsen debacle, or the beer sales at Mountaineer Field (for what it’s worth, the Big 12 doesn’t have a beer sales policy), but Luck put WVU in the best position to get out of the Big East without a plethora of selling points. The benefit of WVU is that it’s a good, self-sustaining athletic department with a value in viewership.

And the Big 12 took notice.

“We started looking at West Virginia when we thought we might lose a member,” Neinas said about the eventual departure of Texas A&M.

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28 Responses to “Big 12 introduces WVU, says no future expansion on horizon”
  1. trbowman says: Oct 28, 2011 6:58 PM

    Conference re-alignment is a real pain.

  2. southernpatriots says: Oct 28, 2011 7:12 PM

    trbowman: You said it well, but may have understated it some!

  3. trbowman says: Oct 28, 2011 7:12 PM

    I think it sucks, and I wish we could just go back to how it was a few years ago.

  4. nuclearwarfare says: Oct 28, 2011 7:29 PM

    I think WVU will experience the same growing pains in the Big 12 that Utah is experiencing right now in the Pac-12.

    I think that’s a big problem from a fans standpoint. It’s great when your favorite team moves to a bigger and better conference, but then you have to watch them get pushed around on a weekly basis by teams they used to play once every couple of years.

  5. wvuandsteelers says: Oct 28, 2011 7:29 PM

    Yeah, I remember the good ol days when most of the Eastern teams were independents. You had the Pac-10, Big 10, SWC, SEC, Big 8 and the ACC. Everybody else was independent. The bowl you went to was generally tied to your record, not conference affiliation (except for the champions).

  6. pastabelly says: Oct 28, 2011 7:42 PM

    I would like to buy stock in Big East exit fees. Lots of dividends.

  7. thegonz13 says: Oct 28, 2011 7:52 PM

    Geographically, the move makes perfect sense!

  8. sportsinhd says: Oct 28, 2011 7:58 PM

    A big upgrade for West Virginia, but if the Big 12 isn’t going to add a couple of other teams near WV it’s a really stupid move. Pick up Louisville and someone else, give West Virginia some rivals in the conference. The fact that the Big 12 wants to stay at ten members baffles me. 12 is what it takes for a degree of stability, and it gives their conference champion very little credibility.

  9. eerterpfan says: Oct 28, 2011 8:05 PM

    If there is no future expansion, how does that impact a championship game? I thought it takes 12 teams to have a conference championship game.

  10. tigersgeaux says: Oct 28, 2011 8:19 PM

    There is no set number of teams/schools a conference must have to have a champion.

    However, just as sportsinhd posted it becomes a matter of credibility for the smaller than 12 team/school conferences.

    In another year or three it may be 16 team conferences will be common and less than that number of teams may not have credibility.

  11. kcrobert10 says: Oct 28, 2011 8:35 PM

    Guys news flash Texas and Oklahoma aren’t intrested in 12 teams. It’s much easier to go to BCS champion games the way its set up now. Not that it matters there the only 2 teams that have won the big 12 (soon to be the red river conference) for a number of yrs anyway. The way they have handled the acquisition of west Virginia has been a clown show. Wouldn’t expect anything less from them. Meanwhile the sec and mizzou have silently made there deal with out all the drama of senators and what not. Internet snaffus aside they are being very silent probably won’t say anything until mizzou is accepted in the next couple weeks.

  12. John Taylor says: Oct 28, 2011 8:40 PM

    From the 2011-2012 NCAA Division I Manual:

    17.9.5.2 (c) Annual Exemptions: Twelve-Member Conference Championship Game. [FBS/FCS] A conference championship game between division champions of a member conference of 12 or more institutions that is divided into two divisions (of six or more institutions each), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division.

  13. footballjack29 says: Oct 28, 2011 9:10 PM

    When will the conference changes end?!?!

  14. tigersgeaux says: Oct 28, 2011 9:17 PM

    JT: 12 member conferences divided into 2 divisions of 6 teams each, round robin play, are exempt. Exempt from what? So 10 member conferences like the Big 12 at this time is not exempt?

  15. trainwreck101 says: Oct 28, 2011 9:29 PM

    Self sustaining.…yeah right.

  16. deadeye says: Oct 28, 2011 9:42 PM

    “When will the conference changes end?!?!”

    ============================

    Not until we get 16 team conferences who each get to play three post-season games to determine their champion. That’s were this is all headed.

    WVU just left a conference that will be sunk in two years for a conference that will be sunk in four years. Good luck to both WVU and the BIG12.

  17. John Taylor says: Oct 28, 2011 9:45 PM

    Exempt from “the maximum number of football contests (12)… an individual student-athlete may participate in each academic year.”

    Other exemptions include spring games, bowl games and “games played in Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico”, i.e. the 13th-game provision.

  18. Deb says: Oct 28, 2011 10:14 PM

    Is Missouri still deciding what to do? Still trying to get the attention of the Big 10? Negotiating with the SEC? Are SEC schools arguing over whether to admit Mizzou? Or debating where to admit Mizzou?

    When can we expect to get another episode of All My Conferences?

  19. thefiesty1 says: Oct 28, 2011 10:51 PM

    Neinas says no further expansion. They’re happy at 10 so the big 2 get more of their equal revenue sharing instead of sharing with 12. With 10, NO championship game equals LESS money to share. What’s wrong with these people?? I thought DeLOSS was ONLY after MORE $$$.

    Forward thinking? I think NOT.

  20. critter69 says: Oct 28, 2011 10:55 PM

    Mizzou has been trying to get the Big 10’s attention for decades now (since at least the 1970s, if not before).

    I’ll give them credit for one thing – they won’t listen to the Big 10 telling them to ‘GET LOST – We don’t want you.’

  21. Ben Kercheval says: Oct 28, 2011 11:16 PM

    trainwreck101,

    This.

  22. tigersgeaux says: Oct 28, 2011 11:33 PM

    JT:

    Thank you.

    If I understand, a conference with at least 12 teams…is exempt from the limitation of games which allows a championship game, bowl game, etc.

    If a conference is under the 12 member schools, it is not exempt and cannot have a normal season plus championship game, bowls games, etc?

  23. dmcgrann says: Oct 29, 2011 1:17 AM

    tigersgeaux, FBS/FCS teams are limited to 12 games per season. If they are in a conference with more than 12 teams (split into divisions, playing a round robin in the divisions, as JT posted), then they can also participate in a conference championship game. If a conference has less than 12 teams, they can’t have a conference championship game.

    Bowl games don’t count in the 12 games per season limitation.

  24. Deb says: Oct 29, 2011 12:21 PM

    @critter69 …

    Well, in fairness, it seems clear that Missouri doesn’t speak blatant hypocrisy.

    The most successful conferences (read: SEC) make no bones about the fact that they look at expanding their television audience when considering new admissions. St. Louis and Kansas City are huge television markets, and certainly St. Louis comes into play when Missouri is involved. Instead, the Big 10 chose Nebraska. The Big 10, however, likes to make a lot of noise about preferring to consider academic standing over revenue (uh-huh) in choosing new admissions. Missouri has the oldest and most respected School of Journalism in the world, has been an AAU member for more than a century, and has a higher academic standing than Nebraska. Yet the Big 10 chose Nebraska. Most conferences value geographic proximity, and Missouri is closer in proximity to other Big 10 schools than Nebraska. Yet the Big 10 chose Nebraska.

    So maybe Missouri has had trouble getting the message because the Big 10 has been handing out a load of BS in telling everyone what it wants–especially in telling people that it values academics above all. They can stop trying to sell that story after bringing in Nebraska over Missouri. Actions speak louder than words.

  25. harleyspoon says: Oct 29, 2011 2:47 PM

    The SEC is most of the Old Confederacy and now two (instead of just one..Kentucky) bloody states (Missouri was a bloody state). Missouri is, however, the only “Yankee” state in the minds of Southern bloods. There are now only two really big states in the SEC, Texas and Florida. The success comes from the fact that it is a southern state vs southern state (infra-conference) and all are united (inter-state) versus the Yankees. I understand that as a Texan who has nothing but Southern blood in my veins. For the most part, the SEC area kids stay home..with the exception of Florida and now Texas, whose kids are recruited nationally because there are so many kids playing football.

    Southerners are football fanatics. Success is easy when all the schools are in one pile in one region and all with deep roots in the Old Confederacy….and believe me, that still carries a lot of weight in the South.

    If all conferences were regionally correct (Southeast, Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, Northwest, Mountain states) and there were 6-16 team conferences, there would be a real challenge to the singular success of the SEC…There could also be a real play-off system and a healthy non-championship bowl system….and no region would dominate as the SEC has recently.

  26. Deb says: Oct 29, 2011 3:48 PM

    @harleyspoon …

    I agree that respecting its regional history is one reason the SEC has risen to its current level of dominance. And that’s how things should remain for the dominance to continue, which is why I’m vehemently opposed to bringing in Oklahoma, as some have suggested. I think your observations about other conferences explain why they’ve been less successful recently.

    I don’t make distinctions based on the “blood” states. To me, the SEC should just limit admissions to the 13 states that signed the secession order. It’s a simple, historic formula that does happen to include Missouri. As a diehard lifelong Alabama fan and a Mizzou grad, I’d rather not have the two schools competing in the same conference, but at least Mizzou’s admission would meet the SEC’s historical and geographic criteria.

  27. dkhhuey says: Oct 31, 2011 12:35 PM

    The Civil War ended close to 150 years ago – this whole south versus the yanks needs to go away!

  28. Deb says: Oct 31, 2011 2:08 PM

    It’s not the South vs. the Yanks, dkhhuey, nor does it have anything to do with the Civil War. It’s GEOGRAPHIC. I don’t want to end up like the Big East clamoring for a school from Idaho to join the ranks, which will lead to fans flying cross-country to attend games. Nor do I want to be like Michigan trying to prove it shares any football history or culture with Nebraska. I want the Southeastern Conference to remain in the traditional Southeast. Why is that sooooo bloody hard to understand????

    If it helps, I was also against Europeans giving up their individual currencies for the Euro–and that little bit of idiocy has nearly bankrupted them all. It’s not a sin to maintain cultural identity rather than creating a bizarre patchwork you hope will make you rich. There’s a difference between a melting pot and a hodgepodge.

    In deciding who should and shouldn’t be part of the SEC, we need a logical way to determine those borders. The most logical way I can conclude is, yes, by limiting ourselves to the states that aligned with the South during secession. Why? Because that’s the only time lines have been drawn. It makes more sense to use existing lines than to fight over creating new ones that zigzag around the country. But it has nothing to do with rehashing the Civil War.

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