Hours after Oklahoma and Texas announced their intentions to leave the Big 12 Conference, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons released an official statement on where the Mountaineers athletic program goes from here. WVU has only been in the league for 9 years, joining during the last round of conference realignment with TCU.
Lyons was a guest on a West Virginia radio show earlier in the day, where he told Brandon Lowe, “We all know what’s been in the news the past week, and rest assured that we’re constantly monitoring and looking at various options for WVU regarding this situation with realignment,” said Lyons. “We’re going to do what’s best for West Virginia University and West Virginia athletics.”
In an more official statement on Monday night, Lyons said,
“For the past nine years, West Virginia University has been a loyal member of the Big 12 Conference. We have valued the partnership with the other nine members and have served the league as a prestigious academic institution and a nationally recognized athletics program. We are disappointed that two of our Big 12 institutions have indicated their intent not to extend their media rights beyond 2025.
West Virginia University’s top priority continues to be our student-athletes. We are focused on ensuring that we provide opportunities to elevate their academic and athletic experiences at WVU. However, in addition to our student-athletes, we also understand the impact this announcement has on our University, our state and our Mountaineer fans around the world. We will continue to be highly engaged and extremely diligent in finding connections that strengthen our academic mission and allow our student-athletes to thrive in one of the most successful athletics programs in the country.
WVU is proud to be a proven academic leader ranking at the highest level of research activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. In fact, we are among a select few that are land-grant, doctoral research universities with a comprehensive medical school. The University’s faculty are increasingly recognized for excellence, and our legacy of student achievement includes 25 Rhodes Scholars, 25 Truman Scholars, 46 Goldwater Scholars.
We also are proud that during these past nine years, our athletic programs have competed at the highest levels, winning multiple championships and crowning numerous student-athletes on the biggest stage of their respective sports. We have excelled in the classroom and built an infrastructure that is attracting elite student-athletes world-wide. We have created an atmosphere of Mountaineer hospitality, rooted in sportsmanship and fellowship. We thank each one of you for being a part of what makes Mountaineer Nation so special.“
West Virginia has long seemed like a natural fit for the ACC, where old rivals like Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh reside (plus Notre Dame and Syracuse in basketball), but it remains to be seen how interested the ACC is in adding WVU.
For now, the Big 12 Conference has put forth a united front, issuing a statement that they plan to move forward together as eight teams, but how long that unity lasts is in serious question based on the arms race that is college athletics.