Actually, the Mountaineers are gone – they’re leaving the Big East for the Big 12. But there seems to be a, well, slight difference of opinion when West Virginia actually will join the Big 12.
The Big East has a 27-month notification period to leave – the league has said multiple times Pittsburgh and Syracuse can’t leave for the ACC until June 1, 2014 – but the Big 12 and West Virginia indicate they’ll join forces next year.
Following CBSSports.com’s report, the Big East and Big 12 released statements this morning within a few minutes of each other.
The Big 12’s version:
“The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors have voted unanimously to accept West Virginia University as a full conference member effective July 1, 2012. The Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 beginning with the 2012-13 athletic season.”
The Big East’s version from Commissioner John Marinatto:
“This move by West Virginia does not come as a surprise. League officials, members of our conference and the candidate schools to whom we have been talking were aware of this possibility. We have taken West Virginia’s possible departure into account as we have moved forward with our own realignment plans. West Virginia is fully aware that the Big East Conference is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period for members who choose to leave the conference. We are confident that in the coming weeks we will complete our own realignment program, adding a number of high-quality members to remain among the top conferences in both football and basketball.”
So the Big 12 and West Virginia say West Virginia is joining the Big 12 next season, while the Big East says it “is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period.”
Multiple Big East sources have said they have no indication that the league would change its 27-month notification rule. Marinatto has said previously he was prepared to have a 14-team football league, including Pitt and Syracuse along with its new members, in 2012 and/or 2013. If West Virginia doesn't leave next season, it conceivably could be a 15-team football league in 2012/2013.
This, my friends, could get interesting.