The Big 12 is still deciding: West Virginia or Louisville? Could be one or the other, or maybe neither.
Conference realignment took a strange turn Wednesday when, a day after it appeared that the Big 12 had decided West Virginia would eventually replace Missouri as the league's 10th member, the Mountaineers' Big East rival Louisville re-entered the picture.
The result was conflicting stories about what happened and a U.S. senator threatening an investigation — while the Big East was left to wonder not only if it had to replace another member, but which one.
A person with knowledge of the Big 12's discussions told The Associated Press that no decision was made by the conference to add West Virginia, and that Louisville is still a candidate to be invited to join.
The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the Big 12's internal discussions are being conducted privately. The person added that a decision about expansion is not expected before next week.
On Tuesday, West Virginia to the Big 12 seemed to be certain after the Big 12 board of directors met the night before. But the person with knowledge of the talks said "no real decision was made on Monday" and the Big 12 is not committed to any school.
However, another person with knowledge of the situation, also speaking on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are not being made public, said West Virginia was preparing Tuesday to announce the move with a news conference on campus with Big 12 officials on Wednesday.
The school and the league also were working on a news release when university leaders received a call from the conference telling them to put those plans on hold, the person said.
"I think all of this should have great clarity within the next 10 days or less," University of Oklahoma President David Boren said Wednesday.
One thing seems sure — the Big 12 is going to need a replacement for Missouri, which has been working on a move to the SEC.
The person with knowledge of the Big 12's discussions said conference officials are not holding out hope that Missouri will stay, but said West Virginia and Louisville should not be considered finalists to become the Big 12's next member.
There were media reports Wednesday that Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell reached out to Big 12 officials to lobby for Louisville and that helped put the brakes on West Virginia's invitation.
"There's been outside influences for every school," the person said. "Everybody's politicians are calling. I don't mean that in a negative way. They've all been positive and no one has tried to coerce anybody into anything."
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, in a statement emailed to the AP, said an investigation might be in order.
"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 Virginians and the American people deserve to know exactly what is going on and whether politics is interfering with our college sports," he said.