Source: Big 12 to accept WVU soon

Updated: October 26, 2011, 9:21 AM ET
By Joe Schad | ESPN

The Big 12 has told West Virginia it will be accepted into the conference pending formal approval, a Big 12 source said. Earlier Tuesday, multiple media reports indicated West Virginia was headed from the Big East to the Big 12.

West Virginia will be accepted into the conference as a replacement for Missouri, which the conference believes is departing for the SEC. However, according to the source, West Virginia's acceptance into the Big 12 is not contingent on Missouri leaving.

The only thing holding up Missouri's departure is legal concerns, according to multiple reports.

The Big 12 still wants Missouri to play in the conference next season, as to not open the possibility of television renegotiations if the league were to drop to nine teams. The conference feels comfortable at 10 teams but still will consider 12 teams in the future, the source said.

The Big 12 is adding West Virginia because of its football strength, having finished in the BCS standings of the nation's top 25 teams in four of the past five years, as well as the men's basketball program having reached the NCAA tournament six of the past seven years.

The Big East could try to keep West Virginia for up to 27 months and negotiations on that point would figure to ensue.

At a Big 12 board of directors meeting on Monday, the conference urged Missouri to stay -- and Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, who had been given permission by the university's governing body to make decisions on the future of the university's athletic program, did not inform the conference that Missouri intended to leave.

But during an interview Tuesday with KFRU-AM in Columbia, Mo., Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton said it would be "days" or "a week or two" before the school announced its decision.

"There's no delays here at all," he said to Columbia's KOMU-TV on Tuesday, referring to the school's step toward leaving the Big 12. "There's some very specific things that have to be addressed. We want to address those. We really can't rush these things. These are things you can't rush."

The Big 12 also is discussing a conference media network, which a source said could even include content, if not games, related to the University of Texas, which founded its own Longhorn Network in association with ESPN.

Neither conference would confirm Monday that West Virginia was moving from the Big East to the Big 12.

Texas Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville is happy to add West Virginia and its football tradition to the conference. "It's just an excellent college town and they play very good football. ... It's a heck of an atmosphere," he told ESPNDallas.com.

But he's not certain it's the best travel fit for every sport the Big 12 plays.

"It's hard to get to West Virginia. Man, I don't know whether these people realize ... because you've got to go to Pittsburgh and then you've got an hour and a half ride to Morgantown," he said.

"I thought it would be Louisville. I thought they would be a better fit for the situation for the Big 12," Tuberville said. "It's just the distance and travel is going to be different for everybody and just being able to get there and for fans to get in and out. "

The Big East, which has an automatic BCS bid for its football champion, has been scouring the landscape for new members after Syracuse and Pittsburgh accepted invitations to the Atlantic Coast Conference and TCU, which was scheduled to join in 2012, defected to the Big 12.

The commissioners of the Mountain West Conference, Conference USA and the Big East Conference are planning to meet to discuss the possibility of forming a single football league, a commissioner source with knowledge of the meeting said.

The Big East's plan was to send conditional invitations to Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida for all sports, and to Air Force and Boise State for football only, a source has told Katz.

The conference's plan to expand to 12 members also includes Navy as a football-only member, though that has not been made public by the league.

The Big East currently has six football members committed to the conference beyond this season and eight schools that do not compete in the league in football, including Notre Dame.

Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti said the school remains confident that when the carousel stops, the school will be in a good position. "While there is going to be a period of time between now and then that will cause our constituents and fans a certain level of anxiety, given the unique assets we possess, including our strong and growing academic profile, our AAU status and the location and high level of interest surrounding Rutgers in the nation's largest television market, we feel confident in the end result for Rutgers," he said in a statement.

Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Information from ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz was used in this report.

Joe Schad

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