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West Virginia leaves Big East for Big 12; start date uncertain

Starting out on top: Guard Kendall Marshall is one of five returning starters for North Carolina, which is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll released Friday.

Associated Press

Starting out on top: Guard Kendall Marshall is one of five returning starters for North Carolina, which is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll released Friday.

The latest round of conference realignment appears to be winding down, but the battle over the time line is undecided.

West Virginia officially announced its move from the Big East to the Big 12 on Friday. It came three days after reports of its move leaked and two days after Louisville entered the picture thanks to lobbying by Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.

"I'm not certain how everything went down," Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said. "But they fought a good battle and won."

Winning makes West Virginia the Big 12's 10th team.

"We felt very confident and comfortable with our position where we were," West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said. "I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't say that we had a little bit of nervousness. We're just glad it's been finalized."

West Virginia was one of eight founding members of the Big East's football conference in 1991. Only Rutgers remains. Now down to seven (even before Syracuse and Pittsburgh leave for the ACC), the league reportedly has been talking to Boise State, Air Force and Navy for football only and Central Florida, SMU and Houston for all sports. (UCF's board of trustees gave its president the authority to talk to other leagues Friday, a day after Houston did the same.)

But when the Big East needs them is in dispute. The Big 12 said the Mountaineers, who owe a $5 million exit fee, will join July 1. But Big East commissioner John Marinatto said they — along with Pitt and Syracuse — will stay for two more seasons.

"West Virginia is fully aware that the Big East Conference is committed to enforcing the 27-month notification period," he said in a statement.

Clarity could come Tuesday, when the Big East presidents are scheduled to meet and reportedly give Marinatto the authority to send invitations.

West Virginia replaces Missouri in the Big 12. While the sides are still negotiating an exit fee that will send it to the SEC, the Big 12's statement listed 10 teams that will comprise it next season. Missouri wasn't one.

Late Thursday, the SEC, which also is gaining Texas A&M from the Big 12, posted a news release on its website announcing Missouri's admission. The release included its football and basketball history, famous alumni and other facts. The SEC said no agreement has been reached, and via Twitter, spokesman Charles Bloom called it a "Web vendor mistake." Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas declined to comment on Missouri, whose chancellor was unavailable for comment.

North Carolina: Officials met with an NCAA infractions committee over improper benefits. The school previously vacated wins, reduced scholarships and suspended players. The committee can accept those punishments or add to them.

Oregon: Coach Chip Kelly declined to say if his top players, quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, will play today. Earlier this week, James (dislocated right elbow) said there was a 60 percent chance he would play while Thomas ("tweaked" knee) said he was 100 percent healthy.

Basketball

AP Top 25: North Carolina, which returns all five starters from the team that reached the region final, is No. 1 in the preseason poll. It received 62 of 65 first-place votes with UConn getting two and Ohio State one. Florida is No. 8, and Florida State received votes. Poll, 4C

Louisville: Freshman wing Wayne Blackshear, a McDonald's All-American, is out for the season with a torn right labrum.

Volleyball: Host Eckerd (20-3, 9-2 Sunshine State Conference) beat Tampa in five sets. It was the first time Eckerd has ever beaten the Spartans (24-1, 11-1), who fell one win short of tying the program record for best start to a season.

West Virginia leaves Big East for Big 12; start date uncertain 10/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 11:01pm]

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