Missouri curators vote to explore leaving Big 12

By Alan Scher Zagier/The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — University of Missouri curators voted Tuesday to consider leaving the Big 12 instead of committing to the troubled league for the long term.

The governing board’s members agreed unanimously after a 4-hour closed meeting at the system’s St. Louis campus to give Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton authority to look elsewhere.

Speculation has centered on a possible Missouri move to the Southeastern Conference, which recently agreed to accept Texas A&M from the Big 12 starting next year The Big 12 has also lost Nebraska and Colorado to other major conferences.

Deaton said Missouri has not been invited to another conference and that there is no timetable for its decision. Conceivably, Missouri could remain in the Big 12, but the Tigers are officially on the market and the SEC could use a 14th member to balance the league.

Missouri has been a Big 12 member since the conference began 15 years ago and was a charter member of the Big Eight, the Big 12’s predecessor.

Deaton said he would relinquish his position of chairman of the Big 12’s board of directors to avoid a conflict of interest.

The Big 12 on Monday announced that presidents and chancellors, including Deaton, of the remaining nine members had agreed to equal revenue sharing and to seek approval from each university to hand over the most lucrative television rights to the conference for six years.

Now it looks as if the Big 12 might need to replace two members for the second straight year.