MORGANTOWN, West Virginia -- In a stunning announcement late Wednesday, West Virginia University President Mike Garrison announced that the school would leave the Big East Conference, effective August 1, 2008.
"The Big East has been a perfect fit for WVU since we first joined as an all-sports member in 1995," said Garrison. "With our school's recent athletic success, however, we must look to the future to a conference that better suits our needs going forward."
Speaking in front of hundreds of assembled television cameras and media members, Garrison was vague as to the conference that WVU would eventually join.
"It is too early to comment on any new conference affiliation." Garrison explained.
Speculation on the reasons for the abrupt conference change was rampant. Sources close to the situation have told WBGV that the Big East simply wanted too much money from WVU, demanding an ever increasing share of the school's bowl and television revenue. The administration tried to accomodate as many requests as possible, but towards the end, simply declined any new demands. This eventually led to the split.
Focus now turns toward the candidates for a new conference home for WVU. Message boards have been ripe with speculation, with names like the SEC, ACC, and Big 10 all tossed around.
A source close to the conference search, however, has learned of the conferences invited for initial interviews. Those conferences include the Southern Conference, Eastern 8, and the Atlantic 10.
"It's obvious that the search is focusing on a conference with WVU ties," the source said. "While there are more impressive candidates with better resumes, West Virginia is concerned that eventually, such a conference might have similar demands on West Virginia's purse strings."
When asked why the Eastern 8 was included after not exisiting as a conference since 1982, West Virginia University officials had no comment.