MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Not long after West Virginia University began to slowly spread word of its agreement to join the Big 12 Conference on Tuesday, people began to make calls to say the deal was on hold.
And now, as one WVU official said Wednesday morning, "Who knows?"
WVU learned Tuesday evening the expected announcement to join the Big 12 was being delayed and that Louisville, which would be one of five football schools the Mountaineers would leave behind in the depleted Big East Conference, began to exert pressure on the Big 12 to consider the Cardinals instead of West Virginia.
The Mountaineers might now have to wait until the Big 12 board meets again Monday to perhaps decide whether the conference will accept WVU or Louisville.
It's also possible that Louisville is seeking inclusion with, and not in place of, the Mountaineers.
Still, there are no indications WVU is no longer part of the Big 12 plans. The delay nevertheless is a staggering development for West Virginia in sputtering story that started last month when Pitt and Syracuse announced they were leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck declined comment Wednesday morning. WVU President Jim Clements could not be reached for comment.
Separate sources told the Charleston Daily Mail on Wednesday morning the holdup is not about Missouri and its decision to stay in the Big 12 or leave for the Southeastern Conference, or about how the Big 12 could conduct a press conference introducing WVU if it wasn't sure about Missouri's intentions.
Those sources said WVU was invited by and accepted into the Big 12 without regard for Missouri's decision, though it was presumed Missouri would be leaving for the SEC and WVU would be the 10th team in the Big 12. That was the consensus of eight of the remaining 10 Big 12 schools. Texas A&M and Missouri did not vote.
Tuesday night, though, members of the league's Board of Directors expressed their desire to step back and to consider Louisville, which had been under the impression it was a candidate. Louisville is reportedly getting an assist from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is a former student body president at U of L.
McConnell's office offered no comment to the Daily Mail on Wednesday. Members of West Virginia's congressional delegation are monitoring the story and are prepared to act on behalf of WVU, if asked. The offices for senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller are also tracking the developments and are ready to help.
"West Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports," Manchin stated Wednesday.
Manchin continued his statement by making apparent reference to McConnell:
"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."