Emails reveal Big 12 efforts to block Mizzou

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
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The Big 12 looks like it's stabilized, but there's plenty we still don't know about the turbulent past few months that resulted in Missouri and Texas A&M's exits from the Big 12 into the SEC.

David Briggs of the Columbia Tribune shed some light on a lot we don't know from Missouri's exit. Namely, the Tigers' exit was much more contentious behind the scenes than even the often-frank administrators admitted publicly.

The biggest revelation from the piece, which stemmed from emails obtained by the Tribune?

The Big 12 had its lawyers put together a lawsuit that Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas could "wave around," though the league did not plan to officially file it.

From the Tribune:
The lawsuit, slated to be filed in Boone County Circuit Court, never came to pass. But the 12-page draft of a petition for injunctive relief was obtained by the Tribune this month. It charged the SEC with illegally enticing Missouri to breach its contractual commitment to the Big 12 — an effort the suit states was "willful, deliberate and in bad faith" and the cause of "irreparable injury to the Big 12 for which money damages is not an adequate remedy."

The draft requested an injunction to bar the SEC from accepting Missouri before June 30, 2016, the final day of the current Big 12 member agreement.

The Big 12 was clearly desperate, and this reeks of a desperate move. TCU and West Virginia were good replacements on the field, but the tradition and rivalries of Missouri can't be duplicated.

Additionally, the Big 12's new $1.1 billion, 13-year television contract with Fox Sports could have been voided or renegotiated if Missouri had left and West Virginia had been unable to join the league in 2013. The same could have happened with the league's first-tier (over the air) media contract with ABC/ESPN.

It was public before this story, but Neinas made his opinion clear: Everyone would be better off if any future moves were held off until the 2013 season. That obviously didn't happen, but he expressed this desire in the revealed emails.

Big 12 administrator Burns Hargis also expressed displeasure at some of the anti-Missouri rhetoric that emerged as the Tigers mulled the possibility of a future in a new league.
On Oct. 24, an anonymous Big 12 administrator told the Austin American-Statesman the conference would be better off with West Virginia than Missouri. The official said, "West Virginia has better football than Missouri, better basketball than Missouri, a better budget than Missouri and more passion among its fans than Missouri. They're better, anyway you turn 'em."

In an email, Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione wrote to Holder, "Sad and disgusting someone would say that even out of frustration."

"Wow," Alden wrote to Holder. "I didn't know folks harbored that kind of sentiment about us."

"Pretty obvious who feels this way," Holder replied. "Not a sentiment shared in Stillwater."

Not a sentiment shared on the Big 12 blog, either. The story also details Kansas Citians' efforts to keep the Tigers put, and a surprising effort from former system president Gary Forsee, who joined the fold to keep Mizzou in the Big 12.

Check out the full story. Fascinating stuff.

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