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UPDATE: Document outlines Missouri's SEC options

Monday, October 10, 2011 | 4:37 p.m. CDT; updated 7:25 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 10, 2011

Missouri is exploring a move to the Southeastern Conference in hopes of getting as much as $12 million each year in additional TV and cable revenue, according to a confidential document obtained by The Associated Press.

The 45-page document, which was reviewed by Missouri's governing board of curators on Oct. 4, outlines the pros and cons of leaving the Big 12 Conference for the SEC. It was obtained from a university official familiar with the discussions who is not authorized to speak publicly.

Among other things, the report outlines the possible contours of broad conference realignment and it includes recent upheaval in the ACC and Big East.

Under the heading of "possible future conferences" for the Big 12, it lists BYU, Louisville, TCU, West Virginia and Notre Dame (excluding football) as potential new members that could restore the fractured league to full strength. A TCU announcement of such a move was expected later Monday.

Missouri curators voted unanimously last week to give Chancellor Brady Deaton authority to explore a departure from the Big 12. The document compares the Big 12 and SEC, and outlines an array of considerations, from faculty honors to the increased travel costs to SEC campuses from Columbia.

The report said Missouri would not suffer a dramatic loss in academic prestige with an SEC move. The SEC has three other members of the prestigious Association of American Universities: Florida, soon-to-arrive Texas A& M and Vanderbilt, the same number as the Big 12 now has, excluding Missouri.

However, Missouri would rank lower overall in the SEC than it does in the Big 12 in terms of enrollment, faculty members who belong to the National Academy of Sciences, federal research financing, average SAT scores and athlete graduation rates.

When it comes to money, the report makes clear that Missouri is hopeful for a much bigger payday in the SEC.

The report suggests Missouri could earn $17.16 million in Big 12 TV money in fiscal year 2012, compared with $19.25 million from an SEC deal.

It also envisions a far bigger "per member share potential" should a larger SEC — with millions of more eyeballs in Texas and the Midwest — renegotiate its top-tier TV rights -- up to $12 million more per year.

Missouri could also "leverage (its) Tier 3 more," the report concludes, a reference to the TV rights not committed to cable networks but instead available as for pay-per-broadcast as well as school- and conference-specific networks such as the Longhorn Network, the Texas-ESPN enterprise blamed by some for throwing the Big 12 into turmoil.

"There are 33 million reasons" to join the SEC, said a second university official who had reviewed the report, citing the number of television households in the SEC's reach.

SEC leaders met Monday for their regularly scheduled fall session but took no action on expansion.

An immediate departure by Missouri — within six months, in time to for the 2012 football season — would risk a hefty Big 12 exit fee of up to $25.9 million, according to the report, a penalty that would require the school to turn over the remainder of its 2011 TV revenue and all of its projected 2012 TV money to the conference.

A more likely exit fee would approach $10.4 million, the report says, under a scenario where Missouri would give the Big 12 more notice — as much as two years — before leaving. Both Nebraska ($9.26 million) and Colorado ($6.86 million) negotiated reduced exit payments upon leaving the Big 12 earlier this year for the Big Ten and Pac-12, respectively.

Asked at a news conference last week about the potential costs of a conference move — hours before curators discussed the confidential report — Deaton demurred.

"We're really just beginning the exploration of our options, and those figures will become very clear during that process," he told the AP. "At this time we've made no decision (to leave). That's a bit of a hypothetical."

Neither Deaton, interim UM system president Steve Owens nor curators' chairman Warren Erdman responded to interview requests on Monday. Spokesmen for the SEC and Big 12 also did not respond to requests for comment.

Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas has said he expects Missouri to remain in the league, while SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has said the conference has no immediate expansion plans. Several SEC athletic directors have suggested that adding a 14th team to balance league schedules is inevitable.

The document refers to unspecified "stability/relationships/trust" issues with the Big 12, which recently dumped its commissioner after losing Nebraska, Colorado and, as of next year, Texas A&M. It also lists revenue sharing; the Longhorn Network; future members/composition; prestige/image; and granting of media rights. The latter refers to a proposal under which Big 12 schools would give TV rights to the league for six years in return for equal revenue sharing.

Missouri curators, who must approve any change in conference affiliation as well as the Big 12's recent request to pool the TV revenue, are scheduled to meet next Oct. 20-21.


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Comments

chris peters October 10, 2011 | 10:23 p.m.

Here we go again...how about we be part of the solution instead of the problem...The new contracts and the addition of TCU will bring plenty of stability and revenue to school. I believe in the near future Pinkel is gonna get us to a BCS bowl, if we go to the SEC, I'd imagine we could knock that back a few more years.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 11, 2011 | 5:28 a.m.

It's called "the best athletic conference is any conference we're not currently a member of" syndrome.

I guess the curators have no serious matters to consider as regards this four-campus university, since they have time to waste on this nonsense.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith October 11, 2011 | 6:29 a.m.

The most interesting of all these "realignment" moves, real or otherwise, could be the one when MU attempted to be accepted into the Big 10. Surely everyone hasn't forgotten that already?

But we will no doubt never know the details, because by definition these matters must be conducted with the greatest of secrecy. :)

(Report Comment)

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