Deaton, Alden address Big 12 alignment

The two spoke at a news conference after the Board of Curators' executive session Friday.
In a news conference Friday, Athletic Director Mike Alden and Chancellor Brady Deaton took questions regarding the Big 12 conference alignment. Alden refuted that the Big 12 had give MU any deadline or ultimatum concerning its commitment to the conference.

Chancellor Brady Deaton and Athletic Director Mike Alden refuted the idea of a deadline regarding MU's commitment to the Big 12 and expressed their intent to work with the league's remaining members during a news conference Friday.

These statements came after a two-hour meeting between Alden, Deaton and the UM system Board of Curators behind closed doors. The curators' first meeting this week took place Thursday morning in the wake of the University of Colorado's announcement that it was leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10. The news conference with Deaton and Alden came only a few minutes after the University of Nebraska announced its own departure from the Big 12 to the Big Ten.

"Yes, two institutions have left the Big 12, and they were valuable members, which means this is a big hit for the conference," Alden said. "However, we have to look at what's best for the league and all the remaining schools in the league."

Alden said the MU administration is not in the process of looking at any other conference.

"Our focus is on the Big 12 and on Mizzou getting better every day," Alden said. "I don't think looking at other conferences is something that's entered into any of our thought processes, at least not consistently."

Although Alden neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of MU leaving the Big 12, the athletic director reaffirmed MU's loyalty to the conference and its earlier variations and dispelled rumors the Big 12 had given MU a deadline for announcing its intentions.

"Our association with the Big 12 has lasted over 100 years, so they know where our commitment is," Alden said. "There are no firm deadlines that we know of. None of these deadlines or ultimatums I hear about have been presented to us."

Deaton gave few details on a possible conference move for MU before turning to Alden but said the university will be in constant communication with the rest of the Big 12 conference.

"We'll be working with the remaining members of the Big 12 to do what's best for the conference," Deaton said. "We're moving forward and making sure everyone is informed, namely our board."

Alden also wished Colorado and Nebraska "the best" in moving to new conferences, calling them "great colleagues." Although neither Deaton nor Alden would pinpoint a number of members leaving that would make the Big 12 irrelevant, Alden said the exit of at least two more schools would be a cause for concern.

"I think that, as far as leagues are concerned, it’s very problematic when you get to eight and under," he said.

In response to claims that MU might have been the school responsible for beginning the trouble for the Big 12, Alden said those reports have relied purely on speculation.

"That is ridiculous," he said. "That is silly. When folks out there are trying to suggest that MIzzou was the one starting discussions, they just have no ground to stand on."

Alden also apologized to MU students for the uncertainty concerning MU's fate in the Big 12.

"I am sorry that we don't have the answers that a lot of students are looking for at this stage, but I hope they realize that we are working non-stop for them on this," Alden said. "I would hope that our fans' confidence in Mizzou is enough to get them through the anxious feelings they have about this.

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