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Realignment Today: 1:37 p.m. - Big 12 announces West Virginia as newest member; Self, Zenger and Gray-Little welcome Mountaineers

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1:37 p.m. Update

Kansas head men's basketball coach Bill Self is on board with the addition of the Mountaineers as well.

“I think West Virginia is a great addition (to the Big 12 Conference)," Self said. "Obviously, they bring a national name in multiple sports. And for me selfishly, I like the fact that Coach (Bob) Huggins is back in the league. I think he’ll definitely add some interest to our conference, which will be nothing but good for us.”

12:55 p.m. Update

Kansas University chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and athletic director Sheahon Zenger released statements just over an hour ago welcoming West Virginia to the Big 12.

“KU supports the addition of West Virginia University to join the Big 12 Conference,” KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. “With their highly competitive teams and loyal fan base, the Mountaineers make an outstanding addition to the Big 12 and Jayhawks look forward to competing against them.”

“We’re excited to welcome West Virginia University,” KU Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger said. “West Virginia is a proud, flagship University with a successful athletics program led by an outstanding individual, Oliver Luck. We look forward to competing against the Mountaineers.”

Kansas governor Sam Brownback is also pleased with the addition of WVU.

11:09 a.m. Update

The Big 12 has announced on its website that West Virginia is the newest member of the conference.

"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 12 Presidents and Chancellors are excited to welcome another outstanding institution to the Conference,' said Burns Hargis, Chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors and President of Oklahoma State University. 'The addition of West Virginia, while expanding the reach of the Big 12, brings an impressive institution with esteemed academics and a proud athletic tradition into the Conference. This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12.'

'The Big 12 is a perfect fit for West Virginia University,' said WVU President Dr. James P. Clements. 'It is a strong conference that, like WVU, values quality academic and athletic programs, and has a great tradition of success. This is a very exciting time for WVU and Mountaineer nation. I am confident that the future of WVU athletics has never been more promising.'"

Certain language from the Big 12 in this announcement also serves as the first official comment from the league that Missouri is not expected to remain in the conference.

Beginning with the 2012-13 season it is expected that the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 10 Universities – Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Big 12’s footprint will encompass five states with over 36 million people. More than 4,100 student-athletes from across the United States and around the World compete annually in the 23 sports sponsored by the Conference.

Now we're getting somewhere. Hoping to get reaction soon.

Stay tuned...

9:19 a.m. Update:

Stop me if you've heard this one. Reports indicate that West Virginia has been identified as the next team to join the Big 12. An announcement could come as soon as today.

OK, OK, OK... I know we've been down this road before, but, this time, it seems like things are in order and the WVU to the Big 12 talk is 100 percent legit.

Brett McMurphy, of CBSsports.com, filed this report this morning.

http://brett-mcmurphy.blogs.cbssports.com/mcc/blogs/view/29532522

In addition, sources close to Kansas University told me late Thursday that Friday could be a big day for the league. Add the two together and it seems evident that the Mountaineers could be in the fold by the end of the day.

We've already been over all the reasons why WVU makes sense for the Big 12. But it seems like money is what made the most sense for West Virginia. By leaving the Big East now, WVU will have to pay an exit fee reported to be around $5 million. If it waits much longer, that number could double.

So what happens to Louisville now? It seems as if the Cardinals will stay in the Big East — at least for now. This, certainly, is good news for the Big East. The loss of WVU and Louisville, along with Syracuse and Pitt, who are headed to the ACC, could have been devastating for the league.

Sources continue to indicate that the Big 12 wants to stay at 10 teams and that is the reason that both West Virginia and Louisville will not be invited to join the league at this time.

We'll be traveling to Austin, Texas, later today so bear with me if I don't get to update this as regularly as I have been. I'll check in before our plane takes off and again when we land.

For now, here's one last piece of news that popped up late Thursday that's pretty darn interesting. It seems that someone at the SEC jumped the gun on announcing Missouri as that league's 14th member. So eager was this person to add the Tigers that the announcement actually made its way onto the SEC web site.

Here's what it said before being taken down.


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Given the ever-changing conference paradigm over the past year, the Southeastern Conference has continued to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining its stature as one of the nation’s premier conferences by welcoming the University of Missouri as the league’s 14th member, Commissioner Mike Slive announced Monday.

Missouri joins Texas A&M University as the league’s two new institutions who will begin full membership on July 1, 2012. It is the first expansion of the SEC membership since Arkansas and South Carolina joined the conference in 1992.

Missouri was a charter member of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1907, which became the Big Six Conference in 1964, the Big Eight Conference in 1964 and the Big 12 Conference in 1996.

Geographically, it is a natural fit as the state of Missouri touches more states (Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee) that currently are home to an SEC institution than any other state that is not in the league’s previous 13-member footprint. Like the majority of the cities in the SEC, Columbia, Mo., is a college-centered town with a metropolitan population of 164,283, making it the fifth-largest city in the state of Missouri.

With an enrollment of 32,415, the University of Missouri boasts a strong academic resume, as it is one of only five universities nationwide with law, medicine, veterinary medicine and a research reactor on one campus. Six of Missouri’s sports teams last season led the Big 12 in graduation rate for their respective sports.

Culturally, Missouri is as well known for its barbecue, country music, history and rich tradition as the majority of the current states of the SEC.

Missouri is one of only 35 public U.S. universities invited to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). It will become the fourth SEC school that is part of the AAU, joining Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.


Earlier today, SEC spokesman Charles Bloom posted on his Twitter account that the web vendor made a mistake and added that no agreement had yet been reached.

Here's more on the mishap from Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune.

http://www.columbiatribune.com/weblogs/behind-the-stripes/2011/oct/27/oops-sec-site-briefly-announces-missouri-as-new-me/

Finally, for those interested in reading more about the political involvement in conference realignment, here's a great story from Manu Raju, of politico.com, who dives deeper into the role played by West Virginia senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin and Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/67040.html

More to come. Stay tuned...

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