Mizzou gives chancellor power to explore conference affiliation

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It’s officially on.  Again.

Following a Board of Curators meeting that lasted in excess of four hours, Missouri announced Tuesday night that chancellor Brady Deaton has been given the authority to fully explore the school’s options as it pertains to conference affiliation.  The decision to hand Deaton the power to pursue other conferences was a unanimous one.

Deaton gave no timetable as far as a decision from MU is concerned, nor is there a deadline from the Big 12 according to the chancellor.

“Missouri is member in good standing in Big 12 & I anticipate the University will continue to be member of Big 12,” Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement.

In the past two months, two members of the Big 12 have given their presidents the same power Deaton’s been given.  Texas A&M ultimately left for the SEC, with the move becoming officially official exactly seven weeks after their Board of Regents gave the approval for conference exploration, while Oklahoma “opted” to remain a part of the Big 12 after being snubbed by the Pac-12.

Mizzou has been connected to SEC chatter that’s grown louder over the past several weeks.  It has been a widely held belief that most officials associated with the school are in favor of a move to the SEC, although the length of the curators meeting would seem to indicate that there maybe  some individuals with a certain degree of concern over taking that conference tack.

In a related move announced tonight, Deaton has decided to step down as the chairman of the Big 12’s board of directors.  Such a move indicates that Mizzou is indeed intent on seriously pursuing all of their conference options, although their options are believed to be just one at this point: the SEC, which currently stands at 13 members for the 2012 season.  While the conference has publicly stated they would be fine with that uneven number for a year or more, it’s well known the conference would prefer to add a 14th member provided it’s the right fit.

Whether or not that right fit is Mizzou remains to be seen, but all signs point to MU at least feeling out the SEC through officials channels in the coming days.

“I have been chair of the board of the Big 12 and doing what we could to establish zones of stability in the Big 12,” Deaton said. “Those discussions continue. We’ve continued, as you know, to have changes occurring from time to time with the departure of Texas A&M and the exploration of the Pac-12 by other institutions. Those discussions are continuing, and it’s a time when we need to explore what options we have. We certainly are not ruling out continuing in the Big 12, but we want to be sure we are doing what’s best for the university.”