OU regents to discuss Big 12 affiliation

Updated: September 16, 2011, 2:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

CLAREMORE, Okla. -- University of Oklahoma officials are scheduled to discuss its Big 12 affiliation on Monday.

The school's board of regents has posted the agenda for Monday's meeting. It's a single paragraph that says the board will consider switching conference affiliation, and any legal ramifications of such a move.

The agenda says the regents may discuss the topic behind closed doors and "take any appropriate action."

The meeting will include a discussion but a vote won't necessarily take place, sources told ESPN's Joe Schad.

Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, president of the Big 12 board, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he and other university leaders "are working every day to hold the Big 12 together" but the next move is largely dependent on the Sooners.

Oklahoma president David Boren said earlier this month that OU had been in contact with multiple conferences and expected a decision within a three-week timeframe that would run out next week.

One possible destination: the Pac-12, which lured Colorado away over the summer and unsuccessfully courted other Big 12 schools a year ago. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott says his conference isn't actively pursuing expansion but also won't sit by if the conference landscape is altered again.

Neither will Missouri, which had hoped last year to join the Big Ten before that league added Nebraska.

While Deaton professed conference unity, he also noted that "every member of the board's primary commitment is to their own institution."

Without prompting, he suggested that Missouri would have no trouble finding a BCS conference home should the Big 12 disintegrate. He declined to discuss possible destinations, nor reveal schools under consideration to join the Big 12 should the remaining members choose to fight for survival.

Texas A&M has announced that it intends to leave by next July and the Southeastern Conference has voted to accept the Aggies if there are no legal entanglements in the way.

Several Big 12 schools have not waived that right, a potential hurdle in Texas A&M's departure. Deaton said that decision would be up to Missouri's governing board, but the curators "have certainly not" made that decision, nor talked about it.

"I'm very proud of the University of Missouri and its brand, the high esteem by which we're held in the nation," he said. "Our (Association of American Universities) status is very important, our athletic competitiveness is very important. That combination gives us a sense of comfort.

"There's real virtue in patience these days," he added. "It's changing all the time ... Our position is we're waiting to see what the rest of the conference does, particularly Oklahoma."

On Thursday, Deaton and Missouri athletic director Mike Alden met with a 20-member campus athletics oversight committee whose members include faculty, staff, students and alumni. The meeting was closed to reporters.

"Alden just said it's up in the air," according to a participant in the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the session was supposed to be private. "That we're waiting on Oklahoma. There weren't even any questions. I was kind of surprised."

Even with Texas A&M's looming departure, it was Boren's comments that have shaken the Big 12.

Oklahoma was offered chances to join both the Pac-10 and the SEC last year but decided to stay in the Big 12 despite the losses of Nebraska and Colorado. Boren said he tried to prevent Texas A&M from leaving and "there's nothing that says the conference will collapse at nine" -- but he also said he would feel better about the league if it had 12 members.

Information from ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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