Missouri takes another step toward leaving Big 12

JOHN HANNA Associated Press Published:

Eds: Updates with quotes from Missouri chancellor, governing board's chairman. Will be updated. With AP Photos.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The governing board of the University of Missouri unanimously gave its chancellor the authority Friday to move the school out of the Big 12 Conference.

Chancellor Brady Deaton was given the power following a two-day Board of Curators meeting that wrapped up Friday without an announcement that Missouri is leaving the Big 12, presumably for the Southeastern Conference.

Deaton said discussions about realignment are ongoing and a "decision will be undertaken expeditiously." He avoided saying that he favors leaving the Big 12 or to identify SEC as a potential place for Missouri to land during a news conference sitting alongside athletic director Mike Alden and other school officials.

"We've provided information to the SEC," Deaton said. "We would anticipate that any decision we make would be apropos to next season."

Deaton would not say exactly when he expects to make a decision but added, "We're not looking at a long time frame."

The Big 12 did not immediately respond to message left seeking comment.

The Big 12 already has lost Nebraska and Colorado and will lose Texas A&M next year when TCU joins. Losing Missouri would leave the league with nine teams.

The school also decided to explore setting up a holiday basketball tournament and annual football game in Kansas City with an unidentified rival -- Kansas would fit the bill -- moves designed to answer critics who say departing the Big 12 will gut storied traditions that date back decades. Missouri and Kansas have played each other in football for 119 years.

"Should this decision lead to our departure from the Big 12, this board is committed to doing what we can to preserve the rich tradition and heritage that is very important to us here," curators chairman Warren Erdman said.

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