CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Interim Big 12 Conference Commissioner Chuck Neinas said he'd like to "make the record clear for folks in West Virginia."
On Wednesday, he did just that.
In an interview with the Gazette, Neinas said he's been assured by officials at West Virginia University that the Mountaineers will be part of the Big 12 next fall -- and a football schedule will be released by Feb 1, less than a week from now.
WVU and its current conference, the Big East, are involved in a pair of lawsuits. The school wants to leave the Big East after this school year, but the conference maintains the school must stay for the full 27-month waiting period outlined in Big East bylaws.
Neinas, in a telephone interview from the Big 12 offices in Dallas, said it's "for West Virginia to comment" specifically on the lawsuits.
"But our conference fully expects West Virginia to participate in the Big 12, beginning July 1, 2012," Neinas said. "We've had continual assurances from [WVU] President [Jim] Clements and Athletic Director Oliver Luck [the Mountaineers] will be here to kick off the new year."
The Big 12 commissioner said his league hasn't made scheduling plans to move forward for 2012-13 without West Virginia.
"No,'' he said. "We have a schedule with West Virginia. We have a contractual commitment with our television partners that we must release a schedule by Feb. 1 and we will do that.
"Aside from our television partners, our schools are anxious to release their schedules and we'll meet the required deadline."
Neinas said he's talked with Big East Commissioner John Marinatto.
"I've had a couple of brief discussions with him," Neinas said. "We spoke in New Orleans at the BCS [football] championship."
The Big 12 commissioner wouldn't elaborate, other than to say "that's between John and myself."
In that conversation, however, Neinas more than likely uttered the name of Missouri, which is bolting the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference next season.
"The one thing that gets lost is we're in this predicament because the SEC invited Missouri," Neinas said. "But the SEC was willing to play with 13 [rather than 14] next season. We made an offer to Missouri that was financially beneficial to stay for another year. Missouri made the decision not to accept.
"We had a teleconference call with those in the SEC, Big East, ACC, Mountain West and Conference USA. We all agreed we could save money and avoid litigation if all held serve for 2012-13. All agreed. But Missouri made a very selfish decision. It's been very disruptive. Missouri gave us notice in November [of 2011] and it's pretty difficult to move forward then."
Neinas acknowledged the Big East would be in a similar position if WVU indeed jumps for next season. But he's not overly sympathetic.
"The Big East gets on planes and flies all over the country inviting other schools," Neinas said. "But they raise hell when West Virginia wants to come to the Big 12?
"We didn't solicit West Virginia; West Virginia solicited us -- as did other Big East schools. It seems to me the Big East has a double standard. And the Big East was talking about [automatic qualifying status to the BCS]. There's not going to be AQs in the near future."