TIGER KICKOFF: What's next for Missouri in move to SEC

Thursday, November 10, 2011 | 11:30 p.m. CST; updated 8:11 p.m. CST, Friday, November 11, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Southeastern Conference has a 161-page guidebook called Commissioner's Regulations: Governing Conference Competition, Championships and Tournaments.

It details everything from the conference's lightning policy (if it's detected six or less miles away, competition shall be suspended) to where the school band can sit (if it's closer to midfield than the 30-yardline, it must be at least 25 rows back).

Traveling expenses will increase

If you haven’t caught on yet, conference realignment has nothing to do with geography.

Case in point: When Missouri joins the SEC this summer, it will become part of the eastern division.

That’s good from a competition standpoint, but it might stress out the athletics department accountants.

Missouri will be traveling regularly to Gainesville, Fla. (858 miles), Columbia, SC. (715 miles) and Athens, Ga. (606 miles), among others.

For the football team, the longer travel distances do not make much of a difference. In the Big 12, it flies everywhere except Kansas, so additional costs will be based primarily on more fuel and extra hours for flight crews.

But for the other sports, it poses a problem. The basketball teams bused to Kansas State, and the other teams bused to Iowa State and the two Oklahoma schools. Mark Alnutt, associate athletics director of administration will now have to book flights, be it commercial or through its charter provider, for those teams.

“Those are costs that we look at and will be able to understand once scheduling is complete with the SEC,” Alnutt said.  

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Missouri athletics department spent $10,773,154 on non-football and basketball sports from July 2010 to July 2011. $2,226,410 of that was game day expenses, including travel.

According to NCAA financial reports from 2004-05, the Missouri athletics department spent a total $2,141,930 on travel, with $559,904 on football, $531,156 on the two basketball teams and $877,874 on the other sports combined (plus $172,996 "non-program" expenses).

Alnutt said he could not yet quantify how much expenses will increase.

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One might call it specific. It makes you wonder about the need for the SEC transition team, which has gone over the guidebook page-by-page with new addition Texas A&M and will soon do so with Missouri, which announced Sunday it will be joining the conference next summer.

"We're not going to hand them a book and say, 'Here's what you need to know,'" SEC transition team chairman Larry Templeton said in a phone interview. "That's just not the way we operate."

Southern hospitality, indeed.

On Sunday, Templeton was at the MU Student Center to finally celebrate Missouri's much-anticipated move. For the transition team and Missouri, though, the work is far from over.

Right now, everyone is a little busy. The Missouri football team's season will continue for at least another three weekends, and the SEC plays its conference championship Dec. 3. After that, everybody will get down to business. Going through the conference guidelines, the transition team will take any and all questions from Missouri and ask a few of its own.

"We're trying to find out the things A&M and Missouri have been doing, and if there's something that doesn't match up with us, we'll ask, 'What way can we work this out that makes it a smooth transition?'" Templeton said.

Besides Templeton, who is a paid consultant to the SEC and the longtime Mississippi State athletic director, the transition team consists of Mark Womack, the executive associate commissioner, Mark Whitworth, the associate commissioner of external affairs, and Greg Sankey, the associate commissioner of compliance.

Missouri's team includes athletics director Mike Alden, director of game operations Colleen Lamond and the senior associate athletics directors, among others.

"Every (athletics department employee), some way and somehow, will have a connection with the conference (transition)," Mark Alnutt, Missouri associate athletics director of administration, said.

According to Alnutt, Alden will meet with the other SEC athletics directors on Nov. 16, when he will "hopefully" schedule the athletics department's visit to SEC headquarters in Birmingham and the transition team's visit to Columbia. They will go over the conference regulations on those visits.

Alnutt said they will go over things such as scheduling, compliance and game operations, but he expects "a little bit of everything."

"There's a lot of stuff that's out there," Alnutt said. "The rules aren't changing, per se, but the structure might be different in the SEC. The standards stay the same, but conferences have different rules independent from the NCAA, and we have to familiarize ourselves with them."

Templeton said some of the academic requirements for student athletes, in terms of core classes and GPA, are different in the SEC than they are in the Big 12. In regards to game day situations, the transition team will spell out its "pretty strong" policy on coaches commenting about officiating, security expectations and student seating regulations.

"It's probably not an issue," Templeton said. "Those are just issues we need to make sure people understand."

Texas A&M officials, who have already met with the transition team in both Birmingham and College Station, are attending the Georgia at Auburn game Saturday. After the initial meetings, the transition team wants the Missouri officials to join it at an SEC football game, too. Chad Moller, Missouri's director of media relations, said he has been invited to help out at the SEC championship game in Atlanta and plans to go.

The transition has begun.

"We just got to get the details worked out," Templeton said.

All 161 pages of them.

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