WVU formalizes departure for Big 12 conference

This week could be a crucial one for the future of the Big East, as the conference bids farewell to another former member and prepares for the potential arrival of a handful of newcomers.

The Big 12 announced Friday that former Big East member West Virginia has finalized its move to the conference.

“We are excited to add West Virginia to our exceptional lineup of Conference members,” Big 12 Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a press release. “They bring an excellent overall athletic program to the Big 12 and allow the league to expand into an area that boasts a passionate group of fans and alumni throughout its region.”

The Big 12 also announced that the Mountaineers are expected to begin competition in all sports as soon as the 2012-13 academic year, in violation of the Big East’s 27-month notice exit clause.

Big East commissioner John Marinatto said Friday that West Virginia will be forced to observe the full waiting period along with Pittsburgh and Syracuse, which announced their departures to the Atlantic Coast Conference in September.

“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,” he said in a release. “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.”

As for the Big East, the Dallas Morning News reported Friday that Southern Methodist could join the conference as soon as Tuesday, with the presidents of UCF and Houston also authorized to nego- tiate a move to a new conference.