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West Virginia joins Big 12, Missouri remains for now

Friday, October 28, 2011 | 6:31 p.m. CDT; updated 7:59 p.m. CDT, Friday, October 28, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Although the addition of West Virginia University to the Big 12 is another indication that Missouri is headed out of the league, interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas and Board of Directors Chairman Burns Hargis did not confirm anything during a teleconference Friday afternoon.

"I think any questions regarding the University of Missouri should be directed to the University of Missouri," Neinas said.

Neinas also said that Missouri was still a member of the league as of Friday, despite a press release announcing that the Big 12 expects to have 10 members for 2012-2013 and proceeded to list them. Missouri was not included.

"You're closer to it than I, sir," was Neinas' cryptic response when asked about the omission in the Big 12 release.

What exactly Neinas meant by that is anyone's guess.

West Virginia and the Big 12 are both saying the Mountaineers will be part of the league next season, which would ease the exit process for Missouri and potentially lower the exit penalty Missouri will have to pay the conference.

However, not all parties seem to be on board with that chain of events. In its release Friday morning, the Big East said it plans to enforce the 27-month notification period for schools that choose to leave that league.

West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck and President James P. Clements said repeatedly that their institution would be a member of the Big 12 on July 1, 2012, but declined to go into any detail about how exactly the school was going to get around the Big East's bylaws.

"We've been a good member of the Big East for a long time, and our people are in discussions with them," Clements said.

Despite the rumors, Neinas did indicate that the Big 12 still thought there was a possibility Missouri would stay when describing why there was a "hiccup" in the process of adding West Virginia. The Mountaineers were supposed to have been announced as a member earlier in the week, but the process was put on hold until Friday.

That was because the Board of Directors needed to review what would happen if the league added West Virginia and Missouri stayed, Neinas said.

"That is why we wound up having additional telephone calls — to make certain that we could accommodate, if necessary, an 11th team," Neinas said. "We came to the conclusion that, if we had to, we could play an 11-team schedule, and depending on the final decision of Missouri, we might wind up with an 11-team conference."

That, however, is looking less and less likely. The West Virginia news comes on the heels of the Southeastern Conference's Thursday night "Web snafu," where a page titled, "Tiger Tracks: Missouri joins the SEC" appeared momentarily as part of the SEC's official website. That Web page said that Missouri would join the SEC as a full member on July 1, 2012.

 

Through Twitter, SEC spokesman Charles Bloom responded to the situation Friday morning as such: "Web vendor made mistake. No agreement between #SEC and Missouri."

 

XOS Digital, the Web vendor, released a statement Friday stating it was an "inadvertent error of making available a draft article" and that the draft was "prepared so the article could be finalized and posted quickly should Missouri in fact join the SEC."

 

Still, with no official news out of MU Chancellor Brady Deaton's office, the waiting game continues. Deaton has a trip to India scheduled for Nov. 1- 9, but his assistant Ann McGruder told the Associated Press that Deaton's trip "isn't likely to drive a decision on conference alignment."


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