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Reports: West Virginia set to join Big 12

The Big East could be losing yet another school, as reports indicate that West Virginia is set to leave for the Big 12.

According to the New York Post, the Big 12 is ready to accept West Virginia as a replacement for Missouri, which is said to be close to departing for the SEC.

The New York Times reported that West Virginia has already applied to the Big 12 and has been accepted.

West Virginia would become the third actual Big East member to announce its defection. Syracuse and Pittsburgh decided last month to bolt for the ACC, while TCU -- which was set to join the Big East next season -- opted for an invitation to the Big 12 earlier this month.

The Big 12 lost Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12 this summer and has just 10 current members. Texas A&M is in its last year with the conference and is set to join the SEC next July, but has already been replaced with TCU.

Missouri has not officially announced a decision to leave the Big 12, but the school's curators recently empowered chancellor Brady Deaton to explore moving the athletics program and the persistent speculation is that the SEC is the destination.

Should Missouri's move occur and the Big 12 follow by taking West Virginia, the Big East would be left with just five members that play in the Football Bowl Subdivision: Rutgers, Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida.

Only Rutgers, among that group, is an original member of Big East football, which began play in 1991. Connecticut moved up from the FCS (formerly I-AA) level, while Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida joined the league in its most recent expansion. Miami-Florida, Virginia Tech and Boston College were all previous Big East members to depart -- and all for the ACC.

The Big East has been furiously trying to add teams. The Post reported earlier this month that the league was considering invites for Boise State, Air Force, Navy and Central Florida. Three other schools -- Houston, SMU and Temple -- were also reported to be in the mix.

Still, without Pittsburgh and Syracuse, and now possibly West Virginia, the league's status as an automatic qualifier for the lucrative BCS bowl package will certainly come into question.