By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
Indications were growing that West Virginia University’s battle to leave the Big East and join the Big 12 in time for the 2012 season was about to be won, possibly as early as today.
A source within the Mountaineer athletic department said on Tuesday that the matter was nearing a conclusion and also told the Times West Virginian that West Virginia would be reinstating a golf team to compete in the Big 12.
At the same time two publications, one within the state and another outside, also made reports that a settlement was near.
The Big East has called a press conference for noon today “to address conference membership,” and it will announce that Memphis is leaving Conference-USA and joining the Big East in 2013. Whether the West Virginia situation will be addressed is not known.
The two sides are supposed to sit down Thursday to begin a court-ordered mediation that is aimed at avoiding a June 26 trial in West Virginia. There has been speculation that the settlement could be concluded during that meeting.
Certainly, West Virginia’s action in cancelling its 2012 game at Florida State at a cost of $500,000 — a $350,000 buyout and a $150,000 penalty for it coming after a specified buyout date — would indicate that the Mountaineers feel they will be in the Big 12.
WVU needed an opening on its schedule to play football in the Big 12, as that league requires nine league games as opposed to eight in the Big East.
The Memphis announcement puts the league in position — with Boise State and San Diego State coming in for 2013 and Navy coming in for 2015, all for football only, while Houston, Central Florida and SMU join in 2013 as all-sports members — to allow WVU to leave as long as there are sizeable reparations.
There have been reports that it might cost WVU — and the Big 12, in some way — up to $20 million to exit for the 2012 season.
Since WVU announced it was leaving for the Big 12 it has confidently held firm to playing in the new conference next season, never so much wavering in its stance.
Golf has been gone from West Virginia for many years. There was a time when it had its own golf course, but that land was used to build the law school and the stadium.
The Big 12 offers golf as a sport. It does not have men’s soccer, WVU planning to keep its men’s soccer team, probably in Conference-USA, while the women’s soccer team plays in a highly competitive Big 12.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @bhertzel.