Texas Tech officials have yet to determine who they would most like to see replace Missouri in the Big 12 Conference, but Chancellor Kent Hance said Louisville makes the most logistical sense.
West Virginia appeared to be the choice of the Big 12 presidents after a Monday board of directors meeting, but now fellow Big East memberLouisvilleis back in the picture.
The Senate minority leader called Hance recently to lobby forLouisville.
“We haven’t made up our minds; we’ll accept either one and be happy with either one and get along with them,” Hance told The Avalanche-Journal on Wednesday. “But just the logistics,Louisvillewould certainly tend to be our first choice. It just is more logical.
“Right now it looks likeMissouriwill leave and that we’ll add someone. That decision (on who) has not been made, contrary to some of the news reports earlier.”
Hance saidWest Virginia, which is located inMorgantown— roughly a 90-minute drive fromPittsburgh— is a travel challenge.
Traveling there wouldn’t be too much of a burden for the Tech football program, which would only go there every two years, Hance said, but it would cause issues for other sports that don’t fly charter.
Tech football coach Tommy Tuberville echoed those sentiments Tuesday.
“In all this that’s happening,” Hance said, “every once in awhile someone’s got to look at the student-athlete and see what we are doing. ... If a kid’s missing three out of five days of classes, that’s a problem.”
Hance described the realignment discussions as “a moving target,” constantly changing speed and direction.
He said the Big 12 is being more proactive in the hunt forMissouri’s replacement than it was last year whenColoradoandNebraskadeparted, and again this year when Texas A&M left for the Southeastern Conference.
“Our new leadership in the Big 12, (interim commissioner) Chuck Neinas, is trying to be proactive,” Hance said, “rather than just wait for something to happen.”
Though it hasn’t been heavily discussed, Hance said ifMissouristayed in the Big 12, the league could still look at adding bothWest VirginiaandLouisvilleto return the league to 12 teams. But Hance said the league will likely stay at 10 for at least the next year.
Hance confirmed thatWest VirginiaandLouisvillehave been the most discussed to be the 10th member. BYU also has been considered as a potential new member of the Big 12, but Hance said the odds of BYU’s admission are “very low.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., has lobbied onLouisville’s behalf. Hance said McConnell called him two weeks ago to do just that.
“I’ve known him for years and he was just giving me the positive things aboutLouisville,” Hance said. “He’s aLouisvillealum and he represents the state ofKentucky. I think part of his job is to speak up for his state. He was doing what he should be doing.”
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, in a statement emailed to The Associated Press, said an investigation might be in order as to howLouisvillere-entered the Big 12 picture.
"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 Virginiansand the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports," he said.
Meanwhile, the Big East continues to try to rebuild a football conference that has already lost two of its longest-tenured members,PittsburghandSyracuse(to the Atlantic Coast Conference), along with member-to-be TCU.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)