Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told reporters on Monday that Missouri had not informed the conference of any plans to withdraw, but the school's move to head to the SEC still appears to be inevitable.
Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton told reporters on Monday that the Big 12 is making some of the right moves, now, that are necessary for the Big 12 to do, and I wish them the best and all of that. So we'll see where that goes.
Deaton's admission comes off as much more of a goodbye to the Big 12 than a genuine interest in the Big 12's strategic moves, including a possible Big 12 network. Missouri's Board of Regents gave Deaton full authority to decide on conference realignment matters and Deaton has chosen to pursue membership in the SEC instead of staying in the Big 12.
Missouri has decided to withdraw from the Big 12, according to a report by PowerMizzou's Gabe DeArmond that was corroborated by a source to the IBTimes, and it's only a matter of time before the school decides to officially apply to join the SEC.
Missouri hasn't officially informed the Big 12 of its intentions to leave the conference, but that is seen more as simply a logistics issue of trying to square away all of its ducks before making an official announcement. The New York Times reported last week that Missouri is believed to have the necessary support in the SEC for admission.
Missouri's eventual application and acceptance would likely stop the SEC's expansion plans. Missouri's acceptance would put the SEC at 14 schools and league administrators have indicated that they would be happy to stay at that number. The next issue for the SEC will be scheduling and divisional realignment, but its expansion days look to be done.
The inevitable departure would also explain a report by USA Today that West Virginia has agreed to leave the Big East for the Big 12. USA Today's Kelly Whiteside reported that a Big East official confirmed to her that West Virginia has agreed to leave for the Big 12.
Missouri's departure leaves the Big 12 with only nine teams and the conference has quickly tabbed West Virginia as its top target to join the conference. The Austin American Statesman reported on Sunday that the conference had reached a consensus to expanding only to 10 teams -- compared with a proposed 12-team conference -- and that West Virginia was the preferred school.
West Virginia, along with the rest of the remaining Big East football schools, recently agreed to increase the exit fee from $5 million to $10 million, but that isn't likely to stop the Mountaineers from joining the conference. The increased exit fee doesn't kick in until another school -- Air Force and/or Navy -- joins the Big East, but West Virginia would have to stay for a 27-month imposed waiting period.
West Virginia's departure to the Big 12 could spell doom for the Big East. The Big East is looking to expand to 12 football-playing schools -- Air Force, Boise State, Central Florida, Houston, Navy and SMU are the likely targets -- but it's doubtful any school would agree to join a conference with so little stability.
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