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Big East suffers another blow as WVU prepares to leave

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The Big East Conference is about to be dealt another devastating blow in the NCAA conference realignment race as West Virginia is poised to flee to the Big 12.

Multiple sources reported today that the Big 12 Conference notified WVU today that formal acceptance into the tumultuous conference is all but guaranteed. Acting quickly to make sure it maintains a 10-member lineup, the Big 12 approved bringing in West Virginia to replace Missouri as the Tigers complete their move to the Southeastern Conference, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Even though Missouri is considered all but gone, Big 12 sources said that the addition of the Mountaineers was not dependent on the departure of Mizzou.

While the inclusion of West Virginia will serve to stabalize the once crumbling Big 12, its departure from the Big East deals the embattled conference another serious blow. The Big East has lost two members and one member-to-be in the last six weeks, with Syracuse and Pittsburgh agreeing to join the ACC and TCU changing its mind and heading to the Big 12.

The Big East must scramble to hold on to its Atomatic Qualifier designation that gives the conference's annual winner a BCS bowl bid each year. The current AQ agreement expires in 2013.

Two hold on its AQ status, the Big East is trying to reconfigure as a 12-team football league and has been courting Boise State, Navy and Air Force as football-only members and Central Florida, SMU and Houston for all sports. Commissioner John Marinatto met with officials from some of those schools Sunday in Washington.

Other rumors have put the Big East in discussions with such conferences as the Mountain West and Conference USA to form a "mega-superconference" consisting of 28 or 32 teams.


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