Oklahoma, Texas Gave Power to Presidents, Move to Pac-12 is Likely

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on September 20 2011 11:15 AM

Oklahoma is only focused on joining the Pac-12 or saving the Big 12, according to the school's president.

The board of regents at Oklahoma and Texas authorized their presidents on Monday to explore other conference affiliation options -- putting the schools one step closer to leaving the Big 12.

Oklahoma president David Boren indicated the school is reviewing other conference affiliation options and will ultimately do what's best for the long-term stability of the school.

We're going to make a decision about our future on conference realignment based upon what we feel is in the best long-term interests in the University of Oklahoma Boren told reporters on Monday. That's the criteria. That's our goal.

Oklahoma, along with in-state school Oklahoma State, is rumored to be headed to the Pac-12 in the near future. The move by the school's board of regents is expected to speed up that process, though some believe Texas' indecision could be slowing the process for Oklahoma.

Boren strongly disagreed with that notion during Monday's press conference, telling reporters that Oklahoma was working closely with Oklahoma State, but wasn't waiting on anybody when considering its options.

We're not going to cede our sovereignty in this question to anybody else, to any university in any other state, said Boren.

Texas also authorized its president Bill Powers to negotiate the school's future in conference affiliation, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Powers refused to comment on the situation besides saying talks were ongoing, as the school is a rumored target for multiple conferences. The latest news from Texas-based media outlets suggests Texas could join Oklahoma in the Pac-12, but rumors also put the Longhorns in the ACC or as an independent school without conference affiliation.

Beleaguered Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe called the actions by Oklahoma and Texas anticipated, but indicated he feels the conference continues to be as strong today for all of our current members as it was last year.

Whether that is true ultimately depends on whether Oklahoma and Texas stick with the Big 12 or fly the coop for the Pac-12. Oklahoma has been public in its affection for the Pac-12, while Texas has played its hand a bit closer to vest.

Similar to Oklahoma, Texas likely won't make a move without its in-state brother, Texas Tech, which could prove a problem for some conferences -- notably the ACC. The other big issue at hand concerns Texas' Longhorn Network channel with ESPN.

The Longhorn Network angered Texas A&M so much that it applied to join the SEC, which set off this most recent conference realignment carousel. The Pac-12 already has a regional television network in place and it's believed that the conference isn't likely to accept Texas with the LHN as it currently stands, but it's possible if some concessions by both are made.

Pac-12 school administrators continue to indicate the conference is content as it currently stands, but popular opinion believes the conference wouldn't turn Oklahoma or Texas away at the door.

It's kind of funny, the stuff that's being reported. Right now, there is no desire to expand the conference, Michael Crow, Arizona State president and outgoing chair of the Pac-12 CEO Group, told USA Today. There are orbital shifts that might get our attention, but we just put this thing together and we'd like to see it work.

The conference realignment talks have moved at a rapid pace, most notably with the Pittsburgh and Syracuse quickly moving to the ACC remiss of a lot of media speculation, and that figures to continue. Oklahoma president Boren would love to see a result sooner rather than later showing it's possible the Sooners could announce intentions to join the Pac-12 by the end of this week.

 

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