West Virginia's move to the Big 12 appears to be on hold and now a U.S. Senator is pushing for an investigation into attempts to derail the deal.
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued the following statement after reports that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) lobbied for Louisville and not WVU to join the conference.
"If these outrageous reports have any merit – and especially if a United States Senator has done anything inappropriate or unethical to interfere with a decision that the Big 12 had already made – then I believe that there should be an investigation in the U.S. Senate, and I will fight to get the truth. West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports."
A report by Pete Thamel of the New York Times says McConnell lobbied two former members of Congress on behalf of Louisville, his alma-mater. They are Oklahoma president David Boren, a former senator, and Texas Tech’s chancellor, Kent Hance, a former congressman. McConnell's office has refused to comment.
Fellow West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller echoed Manchin's comments.
"The Big 12 picked WVU on the strength of its program — period. Now the media reports that political games may upend that. That’s just flat wrong. I am doing and will do whatever it takes to get us back to the merits.”
The Big 12's expansion process appears to be in a holding pattern until Missouri makes a decision whether it will leave the Big 12 and move to the SEC. All indications are the conference will add one team to replace Missouri instead of returning to 12.
The Louisville Cardinals had been under consideration to join the Big 12, along with BYU. Other schools mentioned included Cincinnati and possible Notre Dame in all sports but football.
TCU will join the Big 12 next season. It replaces Texas A&M which is leaving for the SEC next year. Nebraska and Colorado left the conference last year.