The University of Missouri has taken the next step in the process of leaving the Big 12: The board of curators announced that Chancellor Brady Deaton now has full authority on any conference realignment decision.
The announcement came during a regularly scheduled board of curators meeting in Kansas City, one that has been planned for two years, that many believed would be the place where Mizzou would announce its application to the SEC.
Another announcement at the press conference alluded to their Big 12 departure: Mizzou is pursuing an agreement with a traditional rival from the region in order to preserve longstanding sports rivalries. This would ensure that the University of Missouri would maintain sports competitions against the traditional rival over the next several years, regardless of circumstance.
The traditional rival mentioned was an obvious allusion to the University of Kansas, a school that Mizzou has had a rivalry with for several decades. The University of Kansas is expected to stay with the Big 12 and, if Missouri were to leave the conference, it would jeopardize the long-established rivalry between the schools' sports teams.
We've had a rivalry with the University of Kansas for 119 years, said MU Athletic Director Mike Alden, who was involved in the executive session. The University of Missouri no longer plays games against the University of Nebraska, once a rival within the North division of the Big 12 conference. Still, the most important rivalry to Missourians is the one between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Tigers. Pursuing an agreement to play each other would ensure that the two bordering states would continue to play each other well into the future, though very few specifics were given.
Deaton did not reveal much about his view on the Big 12 either: Certainly, we have been examining the stability of the conference, he said. That is part of the assessment we're making right now.
Actions speak louder than words, though, and Deaton continues to place himself in position to announce an application to the SEC. Deaton stepped down from his role as chairman of the Big 12 Conference in late September and, now, he's the final say on the University of Missouri's future.
We have to exercise our fiduciary duty, said chairman of the MU board of curators Warren Erdman. Erdman echoed much of what Deaton and other Mizzou executives had said: Conference realignment is a complex decision, they're just as anxious as everyone else to finalize a decision, but they have to ensure they're making the best choice for the long-term success of the educational institution.