It was supposed to be the day that the University of Missouri officially announced its intentions to leave the Big 12 Conference.
It wound up being more of the same, as the league and, in many ways, the rest of the college sports world, waded through another day of speculation and uncertainty regarding MU’s future and the impact it may have on others.
Late Monday night, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton broke the silence during an exclusive interview with KOMU-TV out of Columbia, Mo. The station caught up with Deaton at the Columbia Regional Airport just minutes after his flight from Dallas, where he had spent the day with the Big 12’s board of directors, had landed.
In a short interview with the station, Deaton, though not in specific terms, nudged ahead the notion that the Tigers are leaving the Big 12.
“There’s no delays here at all,” Deaton told KOMU. “There’s some very specific things that have to be addressed and we’re addressing those.”
Later, Deaton spoke about the process and said the slow and deliberate nature of the decision was necessary.
“(It’s) the kind of thing you can’t rush,” he said. “I know fans get impatient. I’m very sympathetic. What I hope they will understand is that this is not a set of issues that one can just press a button and be done with it. These issues have to be addressed on behalf of the University of Missouri and that’s what we’re doing, we’re looking out for the University of Missouri.”
When the reporter asked Deaton if he thought he had enough support from the SEC to become the league’s 14th member, Deaton remained vague but, again, spoke confidently about the Tigers’ position.
“I’ll let them speak for themselves,” he said. “We’re reasonably clear about where we stand. We have some issues we’ve got to examine and clarify. When that’s done, we’ll make a decision and be on with it.”
Perhaps the most telling part of the interview was the way Deaton spoke about the Big 12, when he was asked for his thoughts about the direction of the league.
“I think the Big 12 is making some of the right moves that are necessary for the Big 12 to do,” Deaton said. “I wish them the best and all that and we’ll see where that goes.”
Earlier Monday, the Big 12 board of directors Monday expressed a “strong desire” for Missouri to remain in the conference.
The Big 12 said in a release that all 10 current members and TCU, which will join next season, participated in the board’s Monday meeting.
Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas told the Associated Press that Missouri did not notify the conference that it would be withdrawing at the meeting.
The Big 12 board also reaffirmed its plans to have its members grant their most lucrative television rights to the conference and discussed exploring a conference network.
The conference has lost three members in the last 16 months. Nebraska left for the Big Ten and Colorado headed for the Pac-12 after last season. And this season, Texas A&M; announced it would leave for the Southeastern Conference.
The Big 12 diverted TCU from the Big East, and is considering adding Louisville, West Virginia or BYU as possible replacements for Missouri.