The move seems to be the next incremental step in Missouri removing itself from the Big 12 to go to the SEC. On Oct. 4, the board gave Deaton similar, but narrower authority in seeking a new conference. For the first time on Friday, Deaton did acknowledge communication between Missouri and the SEC.
Deaton would not put a time frame on Missouri's decision saying only, "we're not putting any immediate timeline on ourselves ... We're not looking at a long time frame."
Meanwhile, a large portion of college football continues to wait on Missouri. The Big East can't move on reconstituting its league until it knows what Missouri is going to do. If Missouri leaves, the Big East may be impacted. Louisville and West Virginia have been mentioned frequently as possible Big 12 replacements. The Big East is also reportedly targeting some Conference USA schools as well.
"The next step will be resolution of the question, final resolution of the question," said curators chair Warren Erdman. "The chancellor has the authority to take all actions necessary to resolve the question."
The board also announced the school would pursue establishing an invitational basketball tournament in Kansas City as well as an annual football game in the city against "a traditional regional rival." The move seems to address concerns over the loss of the Kansas rivalry if Missouri goes to the SEC. Missouri and Kansas have played in football for 119 years and annually at Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium since 2007.
The bitter rivals also participate annually in the Big 12 basketball tournament.
The announcement can be interpreted as Missouri throwing Kansas City a bone as it heads out the door. This city will be particularly impacted by Missouri's departure. The Big 12 basketball tournament has been played here, with few exceptions, back to when the conference was formed in 1996. The annual event has a multi-million dollar impact on the city. Missouri's tournament basketball ties with the city go back to the 1970s when the old Big Eight Holiday Tournament was established.
Missouri is considering severing conference ties that go back to 1907 when it joined the old Missouri Valley Conference. That league eventually morphed into the Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12. It has been in the current Big 12 since the conference formed in 1996.
It is known that certain Missouri officials -- and alums and fans -- are tired of the Big 12's instability. Missouri would be the fourth Big 12 school to leave since June 2010. Each had essentially the same reason: Uncertainty about the future. Nebraska was spooked by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s Dec. 2009 comments about the school’s similarities with Big Ten institutions. Colorado AD Mike Bohn said publicly that Missouri’s apparent desire to the be in the Big Ten had caused his school to find a resting place in the Pac-10.
In September, A&M finally ended a contentious relationship with Texas that goes back decades. The flash point was Texas’ launch of the Longhorn Network. But that was merely a symptom, not a cause. If it hadn’t been the LHN, it would have been something else for the Aggies.
The A&M coaches and AD Bill Byrne weren’t necessarily in favor of the move but president R. Bowen Loftin pushed for the migration to the SEC. The SEC wasn’t necessarily looking for expand according to sources but when A&M came calling it was difficult to turn down a brand name in Texas.
In this case, any negotiation of contracts by Deaton would be subject to review by university counsel.