Indications are that Missouri will stay in the Big 12, a source within the league said Thursday.
Two newspapers reported this week that Missouri seemed to be the favorite to become the SEC's 14th team. The Kansas City Star reported Missouri had an offer on the table from the SEC. The Birmingham News reported that Missouri had "informally agreed" to join the SEC.
Deaton is the current chair of the Big 12 CEOs who one Big 12 source called "an extremely honorable man". Given several chances to commit to the reconstituted Big 12, though, Deaton and other Missouri officials did not commit fully to the league at a Thursday evening press conference. Despite speculation that Deaton would step down as chairman -- a sign of Missouri's interest in the SEC -- he remains in that position as the conference seeks new members.
The Big 12 began to solifidy again this week when the Pac-12 announced late Tuesday it would not expand after widespread speculation -- some of it created by the participating schools -- that at least Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were headed west. The source said Thursday that at "all levels" -- board of curators, athletic director, etc. -- indications are that Missouri will stay in the conference that has been its ancestoral home going back to 1907. That was the year Missouri joined its first conference in the Missouri Valley along with Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Washington University.
That league eventually became the Big Six in 1929, Big Seven in 1948, Big Eight in 1960 and Big 12 in 1996.
All of this comes with a huge disclaimer: Nothing seems to be final in conference realignment. For Missouri, joining the SEC would mean an end to some of those long-term relationships. Committing to the Big 12 would allow the league to go forward with nine teams as it seeks more schools to expand to 10 or 12 teams.
If Missouri eventually pledges allegiance then the league could move forward on Baylor and other conference schools releasing their rights of claims against Texas A&M.
It is thought that until Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State release those claims against the SEC, that A&M cannot join its new league. CBSSports.com already has reported that Chuck Neinas is expected to be named interim commissioner to replace Dan Beebe.