After nearly five months of hear West Virginia was heading to the Big 12 Conference for the 2012 season, things became official on Tuesday morning and WVU athletic director Oliver Luck couldn’t have been happier.
“I would like to emphasize how excited we are as an institution, not just an athletic department, but as an institution and the flagship school for the state of West Virginia to join the Big 12 Conference,” said Luck on a teleconference Tuesday morning.
“The member institutions are much like us. They’re large public land-grant flagship institutions,” continued Luck. “In athletics we understand how challenging and competitive the Big 12 Conference will be. There are some schools with tremendous legacies [and] passionate fan bases and we’re very excited about the opportunity that our sports have to compete in the Big 12. It raises a very high bar for that competition.”
The Big 12 is a more competitive conference than the Big East and that’s exactly what WVU wanted. And a tougher challenge means a bigger payout. West Virginia is set to make between 18-19 million dollars per year once it becomes a full member of the Big 12 Conference, which is nearly 10 million more than it was making in the Big East.
“As you are aware the Big 12 Conference is a stable conference with excellent television arraignments,” said Luck. “We are very excited about the financial security that the television arrangements will be able to provide us for all of our athletic programs.”
“We will be in very strong financial shape through the first couple years as well as we get into years three and four and see the full payout,” continued Luck.
Because WVU is a new member it won’t receive the full payout until after the first few years of the contract. The Big 12 is currently in a $1.17 billion, 13-year contract with the FOX.
Now West Virginia is joining the Big 12 in all sports, except men’s soccer and rifle. The Mountaineer rifle team will stay in the Great American Rifle Conference and the men’s soccer team is still looking for a new conference. Luck also said, according to the Big 12 bylaws, West Virginia will have to add another men’s sport, which will be tennis, track or golf.
The Mountaineers will play nine conference games each season and that will give them three non-conference games, which is why they had to drop the FSU game from this year’s schedule. This will also be the first time since 1942 that West Virginia won’t face Pitt in the annual “Backyard Brawl”.
The heated rivalry is over for now and they will never face again in conference play, but Luck said he is open to scheduling a match up down the road.
“It will be difficult to schedule,” stated Luck. “I certainly would welcome a conversation with Steve Pederson, my counterpart at Pitt, once Steve has a handle on what they want to do with their non-conference schedule.”
As for the upcoming schedule, no times have been released yet, but Luck did say Homecoming will be on September 29th, West Virginia’s first ever Big 12 game against Baylor, and WVU will face TCU during Mountaineer week on November 3rd.