The dye has been cast.
When the 2013-14 athletic season opens for the Fighting Scots from Ohio Valley University, they will be competing in a new conference. But will that new conference still bear the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference logo or will the six institutions left out of Monday's mammoth announcement by nine of its members to form a new all sports conference result in it having to develop a new identity?
"That's the question," explained OVU Senior Vice President and Director of Athletics Dennis Cox. "The schools that are breaking away seem to think that it (the WVIAC) is still their conference and we want to get that clarified."
Attaining an answer to that question, however, may prove as difficult as mending the strained relationships between the football and non-football schools as they prepare to enter the "final" sports season as a 15-member conference.
"A couple of the presidents of the six remaining schools were going to call the NCAA and ask for their opinion on this," continued Cox. "We (the six remaining schools) still believe that we are the WVIAC and that Mr. (Barry) Blizzard is still its commissioner.
"They (the nine football schools) are the ones that are breaking away from the WVC, not the six non-football schools."
The entire scenario is eerily similar to the one surrounding the departure of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia from the Big East.
After years of unrest between its football and non-football members, the trio announced that they would be leaving. The Orange and Panthers will join the Atlantic Coast Conference beginning with the 2014 campaign while the Mountaineers will begin play in its new conference-the Big 12-this fall. All three administrations cited the conference's lack of improving its football status as the determining factor in their departure.
Just recently the members of the WVIAC were asked to vote on the admission of the University of Virginia's College at Wise. A close vote-reportedly 9-6-resulted in the failure of the Cavaliers' request.
"I wouldn't want to give these schools that much credit," said Cox. "There have been issues between the football playing schools and the rest of us for some time. One of the hardest things to accept is that the conference office appears to be accepting it."
The ongoing debate may continue into the upcoming school year and that has Cox and others concerned about the WVIAC's immediate future.
"This has caused some really hard feelings. We do have this conference that we 'hope' will last one more year. But this has placed a strain on all of us that I am not sure we can overcome very soon."
And it has resulted in the remaining schools, including OVU, beginning a hurried search for a new conference affiliation.
That decision, for now at least, appears to be months away. But Cox, like WVU's Oliver Luck, hopefully will take a proactive approach to the Fighting Scots' future.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com