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October 18, 2011

Moving day approaches


A flirtation that began with the Big Ten nearly a year-and-a-half ago could be within days of ending and sending the University of Missouri to the Southeastern Conference.

The University's Board of Curators will meet in Kansas City on Thursday and Friday this week.

The agenda for the meeting does not specifically mention conference affiliation or realignment, but has two separate executive sessions. The first is at 3:45 on Thursday afternoon and the second at 10 a.m. Friday.

On Sept. 20, PowerMizzou.com first reported that the Tigers and the SEC had eyes for each other. In fact, the two had discussions in the summer of 2010 when it first appeared the Big 12 might implode.

Realignment went dormant for months after Nebraska and Colorado left last summer, but reared its head once again when Texas A&M bolted for the SEC in September.

Thirteen days ago, Missouri's board held a meeting in St. Louis at which it empowered Chancellor Brady Deaton to explore Mizzou's options as they related to conference realignment. Since that meeting, things have largely gone quiet.

However, two sources indicated to PowerMizzou.com on Monday morning (confirming information from separate sources over the weekend) that "everything was on track" for a move by Mizzou to the SEC.

One source said: "I'm 100 percent sure we're going to the SEC."

The same source said that movement on the issue was expected at this week's board meeting.

OrangeBloods.com columnist Chip Brown confirmed that information with its sources in a report on Monday night.

Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported early Monday evening that a source indicated to him that "Missouri expected 'no problems' with gathering enough votes among SEC presidents for it to become a member."

The next step for the Tigers would be a "conditional withdrawal" from the Big 12 Conference. The withdrawal would be conditional in that it would depend upon the Tigers' acceptance into the SEC.

Multiple sources, both connected to Missouri and to the SEC, have told PowerMizzou.com over the last few weeks that if commissioner Mike Slive wants the Tigers in the SEC, he would have little problem securing the required votes. A super-majority of nine of the 12 schools would have to approve the addition of Missouri.

One of the reported hang-ups for Mizzou's move has been division alignment in a 14-team SEC. Putting Missouri in the West makes the most geographic sense with Auburn moving to the East. However, it has been reported that Alabama objects to those moves because it could cost the Tide its annual football game against Tennessee and because of potential recruiting advantages for Auburn. A popular proposed solution has been adding Missouri to the East Division with Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia.

When Texas A&M stated its intention to explore conference options, it took 17 days before the Aggies submitted their withdrawal from the Big 12. It took another week before A&M was accepted by the SEC. Friday marks 17 days since Missouri's declaration of free agency.

PowerMizzou.com will be in Kansas City to cover the Board of Curators meeting Thursday and, if necessary, Friday.

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