The easy answer as far as the Big 12 goes is Title IX. All but two current Big 12 schools - Texas and Kansas State are the exceptions - field women's soccer teams in the league. Call it an obvious nod to that ubiquitous federal gender law that requires opportunities for women to be equal to those for men, regardless of the shadow cast by football.
But if it is just a Title IX issue, then why is men's soccer universally sponsored in the Big East (and by nearly all of the ACC), which must follow the same guidelines? There has to be more to it than that.
That answer also seems fairly easy to come by. Soccer tends to be a coastal sport, as in East Coast and West Coast, especially the East Coast. There are plenty of exceptions, of course - Akron? - but for the most part the sport has not carved the same inroads in the Midwest. Thus, if a sport is to be sacrificed in the Big 12, soccer is a much more palatable option than, say, track or golf.
It's not just a Big 12 anomaly, either. There are but two SEC schools that sponsor men's soccer - Kentucky and South Carolina compete as affiliate members of Conference USA. The 12-member Big Ten has just seven men's soccer programs. Even the correctly numbered Pac 12 has to add San Diego State to get up to six men's soccer programs.
LeBlanc and Luck, though, are not giving up on Big 12 soccer. The school signed a four-year agreement with the MAC, but with a rather interesting clause. Should the Big 12 add men's soccer as a sanctioned sport during that four-year window, WVU can opt out of the league. While history and culture and geography might suggest that the chances of the Big 12 adding the sport are slim, it's really not that far out of the realm of possibility.
The reason? Well, because it might only take a couple of schools to move the needle.
Consider that the Big 12 sanctions women's gymnastics. Oklahoma is ranked No. 2 in the nation, Missouri is No. 19 and Iowa State is No. 25. But guess what? Those are the only three schools taking part in Big 12 gymnastics.
Or how about wrestling? Oklahoma State was No. 4 in the final Intermat national poll, Iowa State No. 10, Missouri No. 13 and Oklahoma No. 15. The rest of the Big 12 wrestling schools? Well, there are none.
So if West Virginia is going to join a three-team Big 12 gymnastics league and a four-school wrestling consortium, why not work to find a like-minded school or two to invite into a Big 12 men's soccer party? It's not as if the infrastructure wasn't already there, what with most of the league already sponsoring the sport for women.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.