More than a month after the move was made official, University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton spent an hour with reporters this afternoon to ‘de-brief’ the move to the Southeastern Conference from the Big 12.
Deaton said the negotiations are still ongoing with the Big 12 to determine how much the school will have to pay as an exit fee to leave the conference. The University of Nebraska paid more than $9 million when it left the Big 12 last year.
“All exit fees will be paid for by the athletic program," Deaton said. "There will be no general obligation funds as we call them, no taxpayer’s money or no student fees associated with the payment. We’re clear on that and we know that’s do-able. Actually we know that’s doable under the worst of circumstances, but we’re hoping for good circumstances here.”
Deaton says before MU officially started looking at switching conference, the school had been pushing for some reforms inside the Big 12 conference, such as equal revenue distribution. But he says those discussions began to plant “potential seeds of dissention from school to school.” He says it was in late August, when some other Big 12 schools began eyeing the PAC-12 conference, that MU realized it needed to prepare.
“It was like, what do you think? What does the public think we’re thinking about? We’re saying, ‘What in God’s name are we going to do?’ And oddly enough we began counting institutions, and we were thinking, ‘Hey maybe the Mountain West is the best we can do.’ I don’t mean to say anything negative about the Mountain West, but it wasn’t what we were actually aspiring to. What became very clear to us at that point was; we’ve got to carefully examine what the future is for the University of Missouri. Does it lie with trying to repopulate the Big 12? Does it lie with joining a different conference as a group, or individually, or some combinations?” Deaton said.
MU Athletic Director Mike Alden said the SEC will announce its football schedule for 2012 next week with MU as its newest member. Deaton said there is the technical possibility that MU might be tethered to the Big 12 because the University of West Virginia is caught up in a lawsuit to try to leave its current conference to join the Big 12 next year to replace MU. But he said he thinks that’s “very unlikely” and said the University is “reasonably confident” there will be no issues with MU’s move to the SEC.
If you're interested in more on the process of how the move to the SEC came to be, or more about the academic impact going forward, click on the audio above to listen to the entire 1 hour interview.