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September 28, 2011

Big 12 is waiting to hear Missouri's intentions

In what could become another moment of truth for the Big 12, the Missouri board of curators is expected to meet next Tuesday to discuss MU's conference affiliation.

The options at the moment appear to be staying in the Big 12 or applying for membership in the Southeastern Conference.

The Tigers have been in contact with the SEC, multiple sources have told Orangebloods.com.

Mike Slive, the SEC commissioner, said Monday he anticipates the SEC being a 13-team league. But for how long?

A source close to the situation said the SEC has given an indication to Missouri that an application could be met favorably. One big selling point for Mizzou in the SEC is that MU is a member of the American Association of Universities (AAU), a prestigious affiliation for top research universities.

Florida and Vanderbilt are the only SEC schools currently that belong to the AAU, and Texas A&M, which will join the SEC in 2012, barring any legal issues, is also a member of the AAU.

Only the board of curators at Missouri know which way the Tigers are leaning right now, multiple sources said.

While some Missouri school officials are ready to commit to the Big 12, there are others, including some on the board of curators who worry that even if the Big 12 commits for six years to granting rights on Tier 1 and Tier 2 television agreements, that schools like Texas or Oklahoma may split off from the league eventually.

If that happens, some at Missouri worry the Tigers won't have the same opportunity to join a top-flight conference, sources say.

Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel has been outspoken in saying the Big 12 has problems and has indirectly pointed the finger at Texas.

But Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton is the head of the Big 12 Board of Directors and is expected to meet with fellow Big 12 presidents on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning, sources said.

That meeting will be the Big 12's chance to convince Deaton and, thus, Missouri's curators that the Big 12 is ready to commit in a way that it never has in 16 years (by granting Tier 1 and 2 rights over to the conference for a six-year period).

If Missouri decides to commit to the Big 12, the plan appears to be to add one school to reach No. 10 in the short term and then wait and see if there is any more shifting to the college landscape before taking any further action, sources told Orangebloods.com on Wednesday.

TCU continues to be a strong candidate to become school No. 10 in the Big 12, the sources said.

"Being in the same time zone is a bigger priority than most people think when it comes to adding someone to the Big 12," a high-ranking official at a Big 12 school told Orangebloods.com.

Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas has said that geographic proximity is important in terms of conference members having commonality. Neinas also said there might be some resistance to adding TCU.

And while most have assumed Texas is the one that would resist TCU, sources close to Texas have said UT wouldn't hold up such a move.

Right now, however, only the members of the Missouri Board of Curators know what the next move will be for the Big 12 when it comes to realignment.

Stay tuned.


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