After a long struggle, the West Virginia Mountaineers will be departing from the Big East and joining the Big 12.
According to a press release from the Big East, the Mountaineers' wish to leave was finally granted, and they will begin with the new conference in in the 2012-2013 season. Here's the release, courtesy of College Football Talk:
West Virginia University has reached a settlement agreement with the Big East Conference in the pending civil actions in West Virginia and Rhode Island, WVU officials confirmed today. WVU will officially begin its full membership in the Big 12 Conference in July.
West Virginia will have to pay the Big East $20 million in damages, but sources at Metro News state the Big 12 will pay half of that. The Mountaineers will get a $5 million gift from their new conference, and the other $5 million will come down the line as West Virginia takes a smaller payout from the Big 12 once the season comes to an end.
Conference realignment took college football by storm this past year, but no other team had a more difficult time moving than West Virginia.
The Mountaineers were rumored to join multiple different conferences, and everyone had an opinion on which would be the best fit for them.
West Virginia's opinion mattered the most, though, and it believed the Big 12 was the best destination. Of course, current Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen most likely had a strong influence. Holgorsen has Big 12 roots, previously coaching for Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
Even though the Big East was considered easy, West Virginia scraped by at the end of the season to win the conference. In the Mountaineers' last three games, they won each by three points or less, which shows that their season last year could have easily gone a different route.
Some might say leaving the Big East isn't smart because the competition was weaker there, so winning would be a cinch. However, now that the Mountaineers are in the Big 12, they will get much more respect around the nation, which is why this is a good move for West Virginia.
The talent is tougher in the Big 12, which means West Virginia can't afford to slip up against the weaker opponents. If that happens, clawing back to win the conference will be much harder than it was in the Big East.
At times it appeared that it wasn't going to happen, but the Mountaineers got their wish and now they're headed for a big change in 2012.