Report: Mizzou’s SEC application ‘inevitable and imminent’

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Go ahead and strap yourselves in.  It’s apparently going to be yet another wild week on the expansion front.

As most of the focus the past couple of weeks has been on the Big East and their plans to add as many as six new members, the Missouri situation has been pushed somewhat to the back-burner.  Based on one report, that could change in very short order.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times, citing a source with direct knowledge of the situation, is reporting that a decision from Missouri on submitting an official application for membership in the SEC is “inevitable and imminent“.  The source said the Mizzou is confident they have the votes necessary to gain entry into the SEC; nine of the schools are required to give a thumbs up for membership.

Mizzou’s Board of Curators has a regularly scheduled meeting set for Thursday and Friday.  The board, which earlier this month granted permission to MU chancellor Brady Deaton to pursue the university’s conference affiliation, could announce its intentions to withdraw from the Big 12 following the meeting, which include a closed executive sessions each day.  The agendas for those sessions were not revealed, although it’s believed it will deal with the conference affiliation issue.

The addition of Missouri would give the SEC 14 members, although it’s unclear if MU would join in 2012 or wait until 2013.  If it’s the former, it would alleviate the concern of a 13-team league forcing the SEC’s hand on an unbalanced schedule, which would certainly make Nick Saban a very happy less-grumpy head coach.

If Mizzou does indeed decide to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, it would have a ripple effect on the Big East.

That conference is expected to extend invitations to six schools at some point this week in an attempt to get to a dozen football-playing members.  If Mizzou leaves the Big 12, that conference would be left with nine members; interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said earlier this month that the conference would have 10 members for the 2012 season.  Louisville, a current Big East member, has been mentioned as the top contender to replace Mizzou if they left the conference.

The Big East announced Monday evening that commissioner John Marinatto will conduct a media conference call Tuesday at 1:30 ET to discuss current information on expansion involving his conference.

So, if Missouri leaves the Big 12… if Louisville leaves the Big East for the Big 12… if both of those things were to occur, the Big East could turn to either East Carolina or Temple as their 12th school.  Of course, that’s provided the other six schools — Boise State, Air Force, Navy, UCF, SMU and Houston — accept their invitations.

Minnesota gives Fleck 1-year extension, plus raise

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MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota football coach P.J. Fleck had his contract extended Wednesday by an additional year with a $1 million raise in annual salary, after the latest round of big spending by Big Ten rivals.

The new seven-year deal will run through the 2029 season, the university announced without releasing terms. Fleck will now make $6 million per year, a person with knowledge of the contract confirmed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been finalized.

Last week, Nebraska hired Matt Rhule and Wisconsin hired Luke Fickell to put them in the top tier of head coach compensation in the conference. In terms of average annual value, the 42-year-old Fleck is eighth in the Big Ten behind Michigan State’s Mel Tucker, Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Rhule, Fickell, Penn State’s James Franklin, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. All seven of those coaches make $7 million or more per season.

The Gophers (8-4) play Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29. They’re 3-0 in bowl games under Fleck, who was hired away from Western Michigan in 2017.

Minnesota tied for second place in the Big Ten West Division this year, behind Purdue. Fleck is 43-27 overall with the Gophers, including 26-26 in conference play. They’re 0-6 against Iowa and 3-3 against Wisconsin, their primary rivals.

Fleck’s winning percentage is third-best in program history among coaches with 45 games or more, behind Henry Williams (1900-21) and Bernie Bierman (1932-41).

“What P.J. and his staff have done in a short amount of time is remarkable,” athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement distributed by the university. “He has recruited and developed some of the best student-athletes to ever play at Minnesota and his team continues to excel academically, athletically and socially.”

This is the fifth time in six years on the job that Fleck’s deal has been adjusted to keep up with the competition, as power conference coach contracts these days rarely have less than five years on them at any time. Minnesota extended his deal a year ago, too.

In that iteration of his contract, the termination fees Fleck would owe Minnesota if he were to hop to another program were bumped way up. Those numbers landed at $7 million in 2023, $5 million in 2024, $4 million in 2025 and $3 million in 2026. Details about those figures in the new deal were not immediately available.

Virginia players granted extra year of eligibility

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility to Virginia players whose eligibility has expired in the aftermath of the slaying of three members of the team, the school confirmed.

Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler were killed last month as they returned to campus from a field trip to see a play in Washington, D.C. A former player at the school, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., is facing three counts of second-degree murder and other charges in the shooting. A fourth player, Mike Hollins, and student Marlee Morgan were injured in the shooting.

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting, and the team and university community memorialized the victims in a nearly two-hour service on campus. Team members also traveled to each of the three funerals held for their teammates.