Missouri's Board of Curators unanimously authorized its chancellor to evaluate the school's conference affiliation -- generating even more speculation that the school might be on the move to the SEC.
The Board of Curators held a four-hour closed-door meeting to discuss the issue before announcing to the public that Chancellor Brady Deaton had full authority to look at other conferences for membership.
The Board of Curators delegates to Chancellor Deaton the authority to take any and all actions necessary to fully explore options for conference affiliation and contracts related thereto which best serve the interests of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Missouri system, Board of Curators chairman Warren Erdman said after the meeting ended.
On Monday, Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas reported that the remaining nine schools in the conference agreed to an even distribution of basketball and football revenues, while also working on a six-year grant of rights deal that would effectively keep the conference intact.
The grant of rights deal would allow the Big 12 to keep a portion of the television money of all schools for the next six years, even if the school leaves for another conference. The push for the agreement caused Missouri to reevaluate its standing in the conference and take a look at the attractiveness of other conference options for agreeing to the deal.
What brings us here tonight, University of Missouri system president Steve Owens said, is that the Big 12 Conference is now requesting its members make binding, long-term, irrevocable commitments to the conference.
We don't fault the Big 12 Conference for asking for that, he said. It's something it should be doing in order to promote stability.
Missouri has previously been rumored to be interested in joining the Big 10, but current speculation has the SEC as the school's preferred destination. During the entire conference realignment hullabaloo -- specifically when Oklahoma was expected to be headed to the Pac-12 -- Missouri area media outlets reported that the school had an invite from the SEC and could be headed there soon.
The SEC would later deny that an invite had been extended to Missouri, but there's likely mutual interest between the two. Missouri offers the lucrative Kansas City and St. Louis television markets, as well as strong academics that could bolster the SEC.
The announcement by Missouri's Board of Curators throws another wrinkle into the conference realignment carousel that many thankfully thought had slowed down. After Texas A&M's departure to the SEC, many declared the Big 12 dead and proclaimed it was only a matter of time before Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and others bailed the sinking conference for a more attractive option.
The ACC poached Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East in a preemptive attack, but the big Big 12 missile crisis was largely avoided when the Pac-12 didn't extend an offer to Oklahoma.
But if Missouri moves to the SEC, it will set off another wave of expansion measures. The SEC could sit at 14 for the foreseeable future, but the Big 12 would undoubtedly look to expand beyond eight schools.
It could set off another flurry of panic, rumors galore, and loads of backdoor discussions by schools hoping to join a more viable conference.
Want to reach this writer? You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @jtalty