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November 6, 2011

A long time coming

In one of the worst-kept secrets, the SEC announced Missouri as the conference's 14th member on Sunday morning.

For weeks, speculation has run rampant that Missouri would make the jump to the SEC. All those rumors came to a head on Thursday, Oct. 27, when the SEC's Web site prematurely released articles claiming Missouri was officially a member.

This time, the release isn't an error or premature. This time, Missouri is in the SEC.

In the release on the SEC Web site, SEC commissioner Mike Slive notes Missouri's academic reputation before that of its athletic program.

"Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program," Slive said in the release. "We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012."

It seemed a big reason for the delay in announcement was that start date. Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas stated several times that Missouri would remain a Big 12 member through the 2012-2013 academic year. In the SEC release, two separate references are made to an immediate SEC departure, first in the document's opening paragraph and again in Slive's quote.

This appears to complete the SEC's round of expansion, as Missouri joins Texas A&M. This is the first time the SEC has expanded since 1991, when Arkansas and South Carolina joined the conference.

Missouri becomes the fourth AAU institution in the league, joining Florida, Vanderbilt and new-member Texas A&M.

"In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success," MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said in the release. "The SEC will provide our student-athletes with top flight competition and unparalleled visibility. We came to this decision after careful consideration of the long term best interests of our university. We believe the Southeastern Conference is an outstanding home for the Mizzou Tigers, and we take great pride in our association with this distinguished league."

One aspect that was not noted in the release is Missouri's division affiliation. It has been rumored that the Tigers will play in the SEC East, but nothing has been officially announced.

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