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KANSAS CITY--The next move belongs to Brady Deaton.
Seventeen days after authorizing Deaton to explore Missouri's options as they related to conference affiliation, the Board of Curators empowered Deaton to make all conference-related decisions, including entering into contracts.
Deaton stated that Missouri was continuing to work for the stability of the Big 12. However, another directive endorsed by the board belied that statement. The Curators stated that Missouri would explore hosting an annual basketball tournament in Kansas City as well as playing an annual football game at Arrowhead Stadium "against a traditional rival."
The questions after that announcement centered around whether that was an indication that Missouri already had the Big 12 in the rearview mirror. Board chairman Warren Erdman said that the football game and basketball tournament would be pursued if Missouri chose to leave the Big 12.
Much of the perceived resistance to leaving the Big 12 has come from the western side of the state, and Kansas City in particular. Friday's moves appear to be an offering of appeasement to the city. The statement that Missouri would like to play "a traditional rival" brings Kansas to mind.
"We would like to continue to play Kansas no matter what," Athletic Director Mike Alden said. "In all our sports, not just football and basketball."
However, there may be resistance to that from Kansas. Indications are that the Jayhawks would cancel future games against the Tigers were Mizzou to move to the SEC.
Erdman stated the importance of the decisions Missouri has to make and indicated that the board is aware the process may not be moving as quickly as fans would like.
"This is very complex with important consequences," he said. "We have to exercise our fiduciary duty and take our time to analyze all the issues."
Erdman also stated that the Board of Curators is now out of the decision-making process. The decision belongs solely to Deaton, pending approval of the University's legal counsel.
Deaton would not put a timeline on his decision. He did stress that there have been "no unnecessary delays" in Missouri's process. "We are not looking at a long time frame. We want to confirm where we are with regard to conference alignment as rapidly as possible," the Chancellor said.
Deaton did say that Missouri had requested some information from the SEC. He also said that any conference move is anticipated to be effective by the start of the 2012 athletic year. As of today, Missouri is still a member of the Big 12 Conference. How long that remains true is unknown.
"This has been reviewed in every imaginable way and there is work to be done," Erdman said. "The next step would be final resolution."
Your move, Chancellor Deaton.
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