SBD/January 27, 2012/Colleges

Despite Lawsuit With Big East, West Virginia Says It Will Play In Big 12 Next Season

Neinas said he has talked with John Marinatto, but would not elaborate
Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said that he has “been assured by officials at West Virginia University that the Mountaineers will be part of the Big 12 next fall -- and a football schedule will be released by Feb 1,” according to Mitch Vingle of the CHARLESTON GAZETTE. WVU and the Big East currently “are involved in a pair of lawsuits.” The school wants to leave the Big East “after this school year, but the conference maintains that the school must stay for the full 27-month waiting period outlined in the Big East bylaws.” Neinas said that his league “hasn’t made the scheduling plans to move forward for 2012-2013 without West Virginia.” Neinas: “We have a schedule with West Virginia. We have a contractual commitment with our television partners that we must release a schedule by Feb. 1 and we will do that.” Neinas also said that he has talked with Big East Commissioner John Marinatto, but he “wouldn’t elaborate, other than to say ‘that’s between John and myself.’” Neinas said, “The one thing that gets lost is we’re in this predicament because the SEC invited Missouri. But the SEC was willing to play with 13 (rather than 14) next season. We made an offer to Missouri that was financially beneficial to stay for another year. Missouri made the decision not to accept.” Neinas acknowledged that the Big East “would be in a similar position if WVU indeed jumps for next season.” But he is “not overly sympathetic.” He said, “The Big East gets on planes and flies all over the country inviting other schools. But they raise hell when West Virginia wants to come to the Big 12?” (CHARLESTON GAZETTE, 1/26).

HE SAID, SHE SAID: Neinas said that his conference “offered Missouri concessions to stay in the Big 12 and not move to the SEC until 2013-14.” In K.C., Mike DeArmond wrote Neinas “would not reveal any specifics of that offer and supposed concessions, but did contend that SEC commissioner Mike Slive had told Neinas that Slive would be willing to delay MU’s inclusion in the SEC until 2013-14.” Neinas said Slive “said that he could live with 13 teams (for 2012). He advised Missouri not once, but twice. Mike also advanced our proposal to Missouri as did our (Big 12) chairman, Burns Hargis.” Neinas added, “Missouri declined and said they wanted to go in ’12. They knew full well what would happen if they went in ’12 because it was a domino theory” (K.C STAR, 1/27). But in Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel wrote, "Missouri is not doing anything other than looking out for itself, which is what every other entity has done. Missouri wants to get in its new league as soon as possible. ... Lame-duck status doesn't help anything" (NEWSOK.com, 1/26).
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