West Virginia Officially Invited To Big 12

After a tumultuous week that saw the Big 12 apparently tear up a press release announcing that West Virginia was going to join the league, the conference announced on Friday that the Mountaineers will officially become the 10th member when Missouri leaves.

On Tuesday, reports surfaced that the Mountaineers were set to become the eastern-most outpost in the conference, with a press conference scheduled for Wednesday. But with Louisville making a late push aided by involvement from Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell in support of the Cardinals, the Big 12 cancelled the press conference and announced that that it was putting plans for expansion on hold.

It appeared that Louisville also had some support within the conference, with Tommy Tubberville making statements on the radio about the difficulties of traveling to Morgantown, while OU president David Boren allegedly worked behind the scenes to take the Cardinals instead of the Mountaineers.

On Thursday, the rumor du jour was that the league could compromise by adding both Louisville and West Virginia, then presumably adding another school like Cincinnati or South Florida. 

Instead, it appears that the often-fractured conference managed to pull together just enough to agree on West Virginia and the only question now is when the Mountaineers will be able to begin Big 12 play. Big East bylaws require 27 months of notification before a school can leave the league, though the Big 12 issued a statement on Friday indicating that it believes West Virginia will participate in the conference in 2012.

The statement indicates that the Big 12 has backed off of its desire to keep Missouri from leaving until after the 2012 season, but it's not clear at this time how West Virginia can escape from the Big East early, as that crumbling league has stated it will keep the Mountaineers from departing.

In any case, welcome to the Big 12, West Virginia. It's a big, dysfunctional family, but at least it's not being pulled apart at the moment, right? Just listen to the conference overlord and do what Texas says and everything is going to be fine. And don't hold out on the moonshine, either.

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