IRVING, Texas (CNN) - The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors have voted unanimously to accept West Virginia University as a full conference member effective July 1, 2012. The Mountaineers will begin competing in the Big 12 beginning with the 2012-13 athletic season. West Virginia is the second new member to join the Conference since it began in 1996 after the addition of TCU earlier this month.
"The Big 12 Presidents and Chancellors are excited to welcome another outstanding institution to the Conference," said Burns Hargis, Chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors and President of Oklahoma State University. "The addition of West Virginia, while expanding the reach of the Big 12, brings an impressive institution with esteemed academics and a proud athletic tradition into the Conference. This is another step in building a strong foundation for the future of the Big 12."
"The Big 12 is a perfect fit for West Virginia University," said WVU President Dr. James P. Clements. "It is a strong conference that, like WVU, values quality academic and athletic programs, and has a great tradition of success. This is a very exciting time for WVU and Mountaineer nation. I am confident that the future of WVU athletics has never been more promising."
West Virginia University, located in Morgantown, sponsors 17 varsity sports. Men's sports include baseball, basketball, football, soccer, swimming & diving and wrestling. Women's sports are basketball, cross country, gymnastics, rowing, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field and volleyball. The Mountaineers also boast a co-ed rifle squad. The Big 12 sponsors every sport the Mountaineers participate in except rifle and men's soccer.
"We are excited to add West Virginia to our exceptional lineup of Conference members," said Big 12 Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas. "They bring an excellent overall athletic program to the Big 12 and allow the league to expand into an area that boasts a passionate group of fans and alumni throughout its region."
Since its inception 15 years ago, the Big 12 has won 42 team national championships and 492 NCAA individual crowns. In addition, more than 3,700 student-athletes have earned All-America First Team accolades for their play on the field with more than 500 being recognized with Academic All-America honors.
Beginning with the 2012-13 season it is expected that the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 10 Universities – Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Big 12's footprint will encompass five states with over 36 million people. More than 4,100 student-athletes from across the United States and around the World compete annually in the 23 sports sponsored by the Conference.
Statement from Big East Commissioner John Marinatto on the departure of West Virginia:
"This move by West Virginia does not come as a surprise. League officials, members of our conference and the candidate schools to whom we have been talking were aware of this possibility. We have taken West Virginia's possible departure into account as we have moved forward with our own realignment plans. West Virginia is fully aware that the Big East Conference is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period for members who choose to leave the conference. We are confident that in the coming weeks we will complete our own realignment program, adding a number of high-quality members to remain among the top conferences in both football and basketball."