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Colleges

Missouri takes step toward joining SEC

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 03:57 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -

Missouri has taken another step toward leaving the Big 12 Conference, and there is interest in the SEC in taking the Tigers.

The governing curators at Missouri unanimously gave Chancellor Brady Deaton the authority Friday to move the school out of the Big 12 if he decides that is in the school's best interest. Deaton, who had earlier been given the OK to explore options, gave no timeline for a decision but indicated that a move, if it happens, would not take much longer.

"We're not looking at a long time frame," Deaton said, adding that any move would anticipate playing in another conference beginning next season — not in 2013 or farther out.

While Deaton avoided saying that he favors leaving the Big 12 or identifying the SEC as a potential landing spot, it was clear that the SEC is the target.

"We've provided information to the SEC," Deaton said at a news conference following a two-day curators' meeting, accompanied by athletic director Mike Alden and other school officials.

"Missouri has not applied, nor has an invitation been extended," SEC spokesman Charles Bloom said.

However, SEC school presidents have informally discussed Missouri, and there's "certainly talk and interest" in adding the school, according to The Associated Press.

There has been no formal vote by the presidents, and one was not immediately scheduled, the report said. Deaton said discussions about realignment are ongoing and a "decision will be undertaken expeditiously."

Chuck Neinas, the Big 12 interim commissioner, noted that its board of directors has a regularly scheduled meeting in Irving, Texas, on Monday and "conference membership will be thoroughly discussed at that time."

"We look forward to discussing Missouri's future with the Big 12 Conference," he said in a statement. He declined to comment further when reached by telephone.

The league already has lost Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) and will lose Texas A&M to the SEC next year when TCU joins. Losing Missouri would leave the league with nine teams, while the SEC will have 13 once the Aggies join.

Deaton said the conference's stability has been a significant concern with the departures of the three schools.

"Those actions, I think, in a sense, speak for themselves," he said. "They're part of the environment that we're recognizing and evaluating as we go forward."

But a big concern for Missouri is broadcast and cable television dollars, and in exploring a move to the SEC, the university is hoping to boost its revenue. An internal university document obtained recently by The Associated Press showed Missouri hopes to gain as much as $12 million annually in additional revenue in the SEC if other factors fall into place. The school could also face a hefty exit fee from the Big 12.

Earlier this month, the Big 12 endorsed a plan require schools to give up their most lucrative TV rights to the league for six years in return for equal sharing of the revenue.

The plan, if approved, would give each school an estimated $20 million in June. The figure is expected to grow by 2013 when the league's new 13-year contract with Fox Sports kicks in and the Big 12's television contract with ABC/ESPN expires in 2016 and could bring in additional money when renegotiated.

The SEC, by contrast, distributed $18.3 million in revenue to each of its 12 members this year. But that league can also expect more lucrative contracts when the next round of TV rights negotiations occur.

ALABAMA: Freshman running back Brent Calloway has been arrested by police in Tuscaloosa and charged with possession of marijuana.

Tuscaloosa police spokesman Sgt. Brent Blankley said Friday that Calloway was a passenger in a car that was stopped driving without lights at 12:49 a.m. Friday. Blankley says officers smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and found a bag containing marijuana in Calloway's possession.

The running back, who has not played this season, was later released from the Tuscaloosa County Jail on $1,000 bond.

Alabama associate athletic director Jeff Purinton says coach Nick Saban is aware of Calloway's arrest and "this will be handled internally."

OHIO STATE: The tattoo parlor owner whose purchase of Buckeyes memorabilia triggered a far-reaching football scandal says he has received death threats and saw his family's finances destroyed.

Edward Rife pleaded guilty in June to drug trafficking and money laundering charges unrelated to the scandal. He is scheduled for sentencing next week.

A document filed by Rife's attorney Friday in federal court says Rife has spent the past year fearing for the safety of his family and children.

Federal authorities investigating Rife's role in a marijuana distribution plot discovered he'd been buying memorabilia from football players or giving them discounts on tattoos for the items.

That discovery triggered an NCAA investigation, led to coach Jim Tressel's forced resignation and the departure of star quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

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