COLUMBIA — While Missouri explores joining another conference, the Big 12 is acting on options of its own.
Thursday, the Big 12 Conference board of directors made several decisions aimed at improving the future of the conference, which has appeared to be on its last legs at several points in the past few months.
The board unanimously authorized interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas to begin discussions and negotiations to bring Texas Christian University into the conference, according to a release from the Big 12.
TCU, located in Fort Worth, Texas, currently plays in the Mountain West Conference but is scheduled for a move to the Big East Conference at the beginning of next season. A change of conferences is nothing new for TCU, which has played as a member of three leagues since 1996. Jumping to the Big 12 would reunite the school with former members of the Southwest Conference: Baylor, Texas Tech and the University of Texas.
The Horned Frogs have seen some success in the past couple of football seasons, making a BCS bowl game in each of the past two seasons and winning the 2011 Rose Bowl.
If TCU decides to head to the Big 12, it will be the first time the conference has added a school since the conference was formed in 1996.
Missouri did not participate in the vote, citing the “advice of legal counsel,” the release said.
On Tuesday, the UM System Board of Curators announced that it had authorized MU Chancellor Brady Deaton to explore other conference options.
In a separate vote, the Big 12 board also agreed to a six-year grant of television rights, according to another release from the conference. Missouri did not participate in this vote either, citing the same reason.
Under the agreement, any school that decides to leave the conference would see its television revenues continue to go to the Big 12, a situation that will go a long way toward keeping schools in the Big 12.
When they were first proposed last month, University of Oklahoma President David Boren described the penalties as “pretty strong handcuffs.”
As a part of this agreement, several other bylaws were established that officially address the Longhorn Network operated by the University of Texas. Most notably, the station will not be allowed to broadcast high school football games or highlights, something other Big 12 schools have seen as an unfair recruiting advantage.