Despite initial reports that The Big 12 had lined up West Virginia to replace Missouri once the Tigers officially made the move to the leave for the SEC, The Mountaineers are now reportedly in “holding pattern,” according to The New York Times. Reports have surfaced that The Big 12 may admit Louisville instead of West Virginia, and that it’s “50-50 right now between West Virginia and Louisville.”
West Virginia officials said Tuesday that the deal was “solid” and many viewed West Virginia’s official admittance to The Big 12 as simply a formality. However, Louisville raised objections and is now a strong contender to be the team that replaces Missouri, upon their departure to the SEC, in the conference. According to The Times, last minute lobbying by Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, helped slow West Virginia’s admittance into the conference.
The departure of either school would mark the fourth team to leave Big East after Pittsburgh, Syracuse and TCU announced intentions to leave for greener pastures earlier this year. With this latest potential loss, only Connecticut, Rutgers, USF, Cincinnati and either Louisville or West Virginia would remain as members the conference’s football league.
As part of their departure, the leaving team must pay a $5 million exit fee. CBS Sports reports that this number could be as high as $10 million if either school announces their intention to leave after the conference adds either Navy or Air Force. Big East commissioner John Marinatto reportedly met with Navy, Air Force and several other schools last week in an attempt to bolster the conference’s football presence.
Separate reports, however, have indicated that the Big East may be contemplating joining forces with the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA to form a 28-32 team football conference.