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Pac 12 update: Missouri chancellor expects Big 12 clarity soon

Published September 15, 2011 3:21 pm
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The chancellor at the University of Missouri, who's also the chairman of the Big 12 Conference board of directors, said he expects to know more about whether Oklahoma plans to leave the league — potentially to the Pac-12 Conference — within 10 to 14 days.

Chancellor Brady Deaton told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he hopes his league can survive even if the Sooners leave, and potentially take in-state colleague Oklahoma State with them.

"If things change, we'll try to keep it together and move forward with other members," Deaton said. "I'm a little more optimistic certainly today than I was maybe a week ago, but that's based on the fact that I think good, careful reasoning and analysis of what's in the best interests of each of our institutions will continue to bind us together as a conference."

It's unknown whether Oklahoma and Oklahoma State alone — without Texas, in other words — would be enough to get the Pac-12 to expand again.

Commissioner Larry Scott has said repeatedly that the league does not want to expand, but would consider it if rival leagues begin to do so. Oklahoma and Texas were among six teams from the Big 12 that Scott tried to lure to the Pac-12 last year, before settling on Utah and Colorado. Officials from the two schools reportedly met last week to discuss their future.

"My understanding is that that occurred in some form," Deaton said.

What Oklahoma decides could trigger another round of massive college sports realignment.

That's because Texas A&M wants to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, but Baylor and several other Big 12 schools that fear being left behind have managed to forestall the move with the threat of legal action. The Bears won't waive their potential legal claims until they know whether Oklahoma plans to stay in the league or not — though some have speculated that there could be a break in that stalemate.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns have made clear they want to remain in the Big 12, which would allow them to keep their 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN for the Longhorn Network.

But various reports have said the Sooners are convinced they need to leave, with USA Today reporting that the Sooners "are exploring the financial parameters of Pac-12 membership and where they'd fit in its divisional alignment, as well as how open the league is to accepting them — almost certainly with Oklahoma State in tow."

The Sooners have a board of regents meeting scheduled for Monday.

The Big 12 has been reaching out to potential new members, in case Texas A&M is the only school to leave and the league can survive, with Brigham Young reportedly third on the list behind Notre Dame and Arkansas. —




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