ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Big 12 appears to be resigned to losing Missouri.
The league issued a statement Friday announcing unanimous approval to accept West Virginia effective July 1. The Mountaineers become the second program to join the Big 12 this month, following TCU.
The Big 12 then listed its expected membership for next season and Missouri was nowhere to be found.
“Beginning with the 2012-13 season it is expected that the Big 12 Conference will be comprised of 10 universities — Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia,” the statement said. “The Big 12’s footprint will encompass five states with over 36 million people. More than 4,100 student-athletes from across the United States and around the World compete annually in the 23 sports sponsored by the Conference.”
Missouri is weighing a move to the Southeastern Conference. Earlier this month, Missouri curators gave Chancellor Brady Deaton authority to explore leaving the Big 12 and strike a deal with another conference if he determines it is the school’s best interest. No final decision has been announced.
A woman answering phones in Deaton’s office said he was unavailable and referred calls to university spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken, who did not immediately respond to an interview request. The Big 12 did not return messages seeking additional comment.
Deaton is scheduled to leave next week for a scientific conference in India, and will be gone Nov. 1-9. His assistant, Ann McGruder, has said his departure date isn’t likely to drive a decision on conference realignment.
Missouri officials are considering the conference switch in hopes of getting greater television revenue. An internal university document recently obtained by The Associated Press shows Missouri hopes to gain as much as $12 million annually in additional television and cable revenue in the SEC if other factors fall into place.
The SEC has not commented publicly on Missouri’s interest, though the SEC website on Thursday mistakenly posted an announcement that Missouri was joining the league. The web page, dated an unspecified “Monday,” even included details on Missouri-SEC connections, the university’s athletic history and natural geographic fit.
“Culturally, Missouri is as well known for its barbecue, country music, history and rich tradition as the majority of the current states of the SEC,” the announcement said, then noted a detail Missouri is particularly proud of. “Missouri is one of only 35 public U.S. universities invited to membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities (AAU). It will become the fourth SEC school that is part of the AAU, joining Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.”
SEC spokesman Charles Bloom posted on Twitter that a Web vendor made a mistake and that the league and Missouri do not have an agreement. The announcement was pulled from the site.
Missouri would be the fourth school to abandon the Big 12. Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) left over the summer and Texas A&M will join the SEC next year. Missouri is a charter member of the Big 12, founded in 1996 when the Big Eight schools added four members of the defunct Southwest Conference.
Copyright Associated Press