"I can assure you he wants fairness," Manchin said.
Rockefeller released a statement Wednesday saying, "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."
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also expressed concern in a released statement that politicians may be interfering in college sports.
"With 9.2 percent unemployment, it's disappointing that folks in Washington are meddling in our college sports," she said. "West Virginia University brings with it a strong athletic program, loyal fans and strong alumni base and deserves to be in the Big 12. If there is political interference going on, it needs to stop now."
Manchin said no investigation would be needed if WVU is accepted into the conference, which would be a "tremendous opportunity to really showcase the state." He hopes the Big 12's decision is based on merit and politics has nothing to do with it.
"I have reached out saying that I hope it is on merit and hope that's exactly where it stays is on the merits," Manchin said. "I still have faith. They're looking at it ... from the standpoint of what West Virginia brings and making sure we can accommodate and handle the travel back and forth ..."
"They want to make sure they've crossed all their t's and dotted their i's -- that's what I'm very hopeful of," he said.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.