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Big 12 Exit Fees Set For A&M, Mizzou (And They’re Not That Bad)

Over the weekend, it was announced that the Big 12 office, Missouri and Texas A&M had agreed on upon those schools’ exit fees from the league.  All that was left was for the individual Big 12 members to OK the deal.  Now that’s been taken care of and the league announced last evening that the conference and the departing schools had agreed upon a fee of $12,410,000 per school.

Only there’s still not a real agreement on what the payment will be.  At least not from Texas A&M’s perspective.  More on that in a second.

The Big 12′s release regarding Missouri reads as follows:

“The Conference will withhold an estimated $12,410,000 from the revenues otherwise distributable to the University.  In addition, Missouri agreed that it would waive any claim to any of the benefits received by the Big 12 Conference from its television contract with Fox Sports, schedule to commence July 1, 2012.  Also, Missouri agreed to pay the Big 12 Conference for its share of the actual coast of officiating expenses for 2011-12 athletic year as it has done in previous years, in the approximate amount of $500,000.”

The Big 12′s release regarding Texas A&M is worded this way:

“The Conference will withhold an estimated $12,410,000 from Texas A&M’s projected distribution for fiscal year 2012.  However, the parties agreed that A&M will receive a portion of the benefit received by the Big 12 Conference from the signing of its television contract with Fox Sports, scheduled to commence July 1, 2012, and certain other concessions.”

The difference: A&M will get a portion of the 2012 TV revenue bump from Fox (and other concessions) while Mizzou will not.

Does this mean A&M officials were better at the negotiating table than Missouri officials?  We suspect not.  Surely A&M, Missouri and SEC lawyers were all studying the same documents.  It’s more likely that timing was the key issue on this front.  A&M got the ball rolling on its move to the SEC sooner (announcing on August 31st), while MU didn’t make its departure official until November 6th.  Mizzou also turned down a last ditch effort to stay in the league for one more season.

Either way, the fees — a combined $25 million — are a lot smaller than the $25-30 million per school numbers that were trotted out early in the negotiations.  At $12.41 million a piece, the fees are a bit steeper than those paid out by Colorado ($6.86 million) and Nebraska ($9.255 million) who exited the Big 12 last year. 

But that’s where there’s still some disagreement from A&M.  The Aggies said yesterday that their buyout from the Big 12 will actually be $9.31 million — not $12.41 million — which is much closer to Nebraska’s number.  The $3 million difference?  “Direct payments from the NCAA, bowl payouts, conference office expenses and officiating reimbursements.”  In other words, the “certain other concessions” mentioned in the Big 12′s release.

Both schools are delighted to have the Big 12 negotiations behind them.

“Texas A&M’s move to the SEC increases the university’s geographic footprint and will bring national recognition to this great institution, which it certainly deserves,” A&M system chancellor John Sharp said via press release.  “We look forward to the increased exposure that the SEC will provide Texas A&M, not only in athletics but also in teaching and research.”

“We are pleased to have these issues resolved, and we wish the Big 12 and its continuing members the best in the future,” Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton said via release.

The only question remaining: How will the schools handle the loss of $9 million in one case and $12 million in the other while they shift from the Big 12 to the SEC this year?  For starters, we’ve already seen ticket price hikes at both schools.  How else might the schools work to recoup those losses?

Regardless of the details of the buyouts, Mike Slive can now officially welcome A&M’s R. Bowen Loftin and MU’s Brady Deaton to the SEC with a laurel and hearty handshake.

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Decreases In State Funding Led Mizzou To The SEC

There was never any question that the lure of bigger dollars helped sway Missouri toward the SEC.  Yes, the Big 12 was and is as fragile as a Faberge egg.  Sure the football is better Down South.  But in reality, budget cuts in the state of Missouri played as big a role as anything in Mizzou’s decision to pack up and switch conferences.

The Kansas City Star obtained a copy of the school’s application to the SEC — it mentions a July 1st, 2012 entry — and in the application, president Brady Deaton said mentioned that decreases in state funding for MU was leading to increased recruiting or out-of-state students who pay higher tuition.

Speaking with the press yesterday, Deaton said:

“Had state funding stayed up and we were in real solid shape financially, there would still be the issues that we were dealing with trying to gain some sense of stability and surety with the Big 12.  But the fact that there was pressure financially there, certainly accentuated our attention to that set of issues.

Looking at more stable and perhaps lucrative long-term conference alignment, the attractiveness was enhanced by the financial uncertainty that we were facing.”

Given the cuts Missouri faced, Deaten said MU “simply cannot ask our students and taxpayers to provide the kind of funding need by a major athletic program.”

Missouri’s board of curators has been pushing for the school’s athletic department to become financially self-sufficient.

Deaton also said that Mizzou expects to make up to $4 million more annually through the SEC’s television delas “with some possibility that it could be even greater than that.”

Two things come to mind from this:

1.  No wonder Missouri is working hard to negotiate down its Big 12 exit fees.

2.  Deaton speaking about this matter so publicly might cool the tempers of those Tiger fans who didn’t want to switch leagues.

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Missouri Still Working On An Exit Visa; Could Today Be The Day?

Though it may be through no fault of its own, Missouri doesn’t seem to be making any friends in the SEC.  The Tigers are at the center of a heap of fan questions from Gainesville to Fayetteville.  And from Lexington to Baton Rouge, most SEC supporters just want some form of closure.

But while the deal between MU and the SEC appears to be done, no official announcement has been made yet.

Some backstory…

We were told two weeks ago that MU-to-the-SEC would be announced by the end of last week.  Soon after we posted that news, numerous other reporters got similar word from their sources.  Outlets from Kansas City to Texas to the SEC said that they expected an announcement last week.

But then word leaked out that the Big 12 was putting up more of a fight than expected over potential broken television contracts.  The Big 12 also had to deal with an internal battle over whether to invite West Virginia or Louisville to enter its ranks.

In a bizarre twist, the SEC and XOS Digital accidentally showed their cards by briefly posting a number of pages on dealing with the “announcement” of Mizzou’s entry into the league for the 2012 season.  How that impacted the negotiations between MU and the Big 12 no one knows.

On Friday, the Big 12 officially invited WVU and in its press release it said the Mountaineers would join the conference next summer.  Left off the 10-team league roster entirely?  Missouri.

Between the SEC web leak and the Big 12′s flat-out statement that Mizzou was leaving, it’s pretty clear that a handshake agreement exists between the school and the conference.  It appears that the guessing is over.  (Though Big East commissioner John Marinatto could muck up the works by fighting to hold WVU to a 2014 exit.)

Except for that bit about an official announcement.

On Friday, — the Rivals site covering Missouri — reported that MU and the Big 12 were hammering out the school’s exit deal.  That work apparently isn’t finished.

Knowing that MU followed Texas A&M’s plan for granting its top administrator the power to look around and then the power to cut a deal (right down to the day), we pointed out yesterday that A&M’s move was announced on a Sunday with a celebration coming the following Monday.  So could that mean…

Nope.  No announcement came Sunday either.  And with Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton heading to India for about nine days tomorrow (story updated below), it seems imperative that his school and Mike Slive’s conference make an announcement today.  (The SEC’s dummy web pages referred to a Monday decision, too.)

Incredibly, there’s some sentiment that MU won’t announce today because it won’t want to show-up the Kansas City Chiefs’ Monday Night Football appearance and further alienate the people in that metro area.  This after previous suggestions that MU would hold up its announcement so as not to trump the World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals’ championship, last night’s exhibition Tiger basketball game and fundraiser for tornado-stricken Joplin, etc.

No one’s had this much trouble getting an exit visa since Victor Laszlo and Ilsa Lund fought to escape Casablanca.  A tip to MU chancellor Deaton: Just bypass Senor Ferrari at The Blue Parrot and head straight over to Rick’s Place.  That’s where you’ll find the letters of transit.

So will today be the day?  Maybe, maybe not.  On Friday, we were told by an SEC official that his/her boss — an SEC president — expected a vote on Missouri to be held on Sunday.  To our knowledge — as of yet — that hasn’t happened.  In other words, it’s beginning to look like top officials around the conference don’t know what’s happening with the Missouri-Big 12 negotiations, either.

So we’ll not hold our breath.

There’s no telling what’s going on in Columbia, Dallas and Birmingham.  But the longer this drags out, the more SEC fans will assign blame to Missouri.  As you’ve probably witnessed on talk radio shows and internet messageboards, many league fans aren’t excited about adding the Tigers.  At best there’s a lukewarm, “okay, whatever Slive says” feel to their entry.

The longer this drags out — whether it’s Missouri delaying matters or not — the bigger the PR job Slive and company will have to do to convince SEC fans that MU wanted the SEC and that the school fits in the SEC.

Some headlines regarding Missouri…

1.  Martin Manley of The Kansas City Star (just can’t wait for Tiger fans to fill our comment boxes with reports that Manley is a Kansas man) says that he believes an announcement will come today.  He also says that from a football perspective, the Big 12 won’t miss “A&Who and Mizzou.”  Yep, sounds like an objective journalist.

2.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon — who insulted some Big 12 institutions last year when he said MU would be better off in the more academically-respected Big Ten — refused to comment on the SEC situation last night.  “I just think anything else I say at this point… I’ll let others… I might be too quotable.  I’m a fan.  I don’t run the athletic department.”

3.  Over the weekend, Missouri AD Mike Alden was asked about his school’s timeline.  “You guys are asking me a question I don’t know the answer to.”

4. — the Rivals site covering Texas — reported early this morning (behind a paywall) that Missouri “is still gone,” but “still awaiting the exit fee number.”  The exit fee is believed to be between $26-30 million.  That charge would be negotiated down, and that appears to be the current hangup.

5.  While Big 12 interim commish Chuck Neinas says his league is finished with expansion and will stand at 10 teams next fall (WVU in, Mizzou out), Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman reported yesterday that a Big 12 source told him the league still might invite Louisville and go to 11 for next season.  (Which would mean 12, if Missouri unexpectedly changed its mind.)  You know what this sounds like, of course?  Texas wants 10 schools and Oklahoma wants 11.  It was OU president David Boren that was convinced by old Congressional pal Mitch McConnell that U of L would be better for the Big 12 than West Virginia.  That league should be named the San Andreas Conference because it’s built on an enormous fault line that’s destined to give way at some point.

UPDATE — This morning, The Associated Press reported that MU chancellor Brady Deaton has cancelled his speaking engagement in India to stay at home and continue work on the school’s conference affiliation mess.  An MU spokesperson said “the chancellor won’t go so he can deal with other duties in his office that are more important.”  Take that symposium on radiopharmaceuticals.

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Mizzou Vote Today?

Just a heads-up for today, SEC fans.

Back on September 25th — a Sunday — the SEC announced that Texas A&M would be joining the conference.  The next day, a official celebration and was held in College Station. learned on Friday that at least one SEC president expected a vote on Missouri to be held today, Sunday, October 30th.

Legal hassles have slowed this process once already and could do so again, but with Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton leaving for a 9-day trip to India on Tuesday, it’s certainly possible — if MU has worked out it exit from the Big 12 — that the SEC could announce this afternoon — again on a Sunday — that Missouri has joined the league, with an official announcement/celebration taking place tomorrow — again on a Monday.

We’ll keep our eyes and ears open.

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Report: WVU To Replace Missouri In Big 12… After One More Season

According to The New York Post, West Virginia will replace Missouri in the Big 12… after one more season with the Tigers in 2012-13:

“A source said the Big 12, by holding Missouri, might hold at 10 teams for next season and then consider a jump to 16 teams.  Louisville and Cincinnati are under consideration as well as Boise State and BYU.”

Earlier this month, Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said that his league was set for next year and that Missouri wouldn’t leave for at least another year… if it left at all.

Last Friday, Missouri officials stated that any moves made in the coming days would be made with next season in mind. 

Yesterday, MU chancellor Brady Deaton did not withdraw his school from the Big 12 during a board of directors meeting (as some sources in Missouri had suggested). 

The Columbia Tribune reported last night that one school source indicated Monday was too soon “to work out several details with both the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference before formally completing the withdrawal process.”

Also, being tossed around the web is the fact that Georgia AD Greg McGarity said yesterday that the league almost has its 13-team schedule set and that it isn’t working on a 14-game plan.  Of course, for legal/stealth reasons, it’s unlikely anyone in the SEC would admit to considering 14 schools before a 14th school is actually announced.

So is it possible the SEC will play with 13 teams next year and that Missouri will be forced to go through one last Big 12 season?  Anything’s possible.

But the bottom line is money.  If MU has the cash to pay a big buyout fee, it would probably be pretty tough to keep them in the Big 12 against their will.  (It will be interesting to see if the Big East can really hold onto Pittsburgh and Syracuse until 2014, as it says it will.)

It could be that Deaton and SEC commissioner Mike Slive are figuring out just how much money Mizzou can expect to make over the next couple of years before the school decides to jump now or suffer through a farewell tour.

More than likely, Neinas’ comments were a negotiating ploy only.  We have been told by several people across the SEC that Missouri is expected to be in the league by next summer… right alongside Texas A&M.

Also, we’re not buying The New York Post story.  At all. 

Here’s why — some in the Big 12 would like to stay as small as a nine-team conference.  Others would like to stay at 10 or 12.  No one has said a word about 16 teams.

And if Texas is worried about losing influence — and it reportedly is — bringing in seven new voting members to the league wouldn’t be the school’s top priority.  Which matters because Texas still rules the Big 12 roost (along with Oklahoma).

In addition, one big reason to stay at nine or 10 schools is money.  It’s possible the Big 12 schools will make more money with a smaller league.  Would the addition of seven schools like BYU and Cincinnati and West Virginia really bring in enough money to keep everyone’s current payout the same?  Very doubtful.

Again, anything is possible when politics and money are involved, but we still believe Missouri will be playing in the SEC East next fall.  Any other development would be very, very surprising.

After all, Deaton said that he did not vote on any league matters at the Big 12 meeting yesterday and he left the room for “the last several hours” of the get-together. 

“We feel a great urgency to clarify (things) as quickly as possible,” Deaton said last night.  “It’s hard to put a timeframe on it.  Our hopes were days, possibly a week or two.  The sooner, the better.”

“Over the last two or three weeks, we’ve reached a firmness of where we’re headed, where we want to focus our attention.  Our head has to outweigh our heart in achieving some of our objectives because our heart might not lead us in the right direction for the University of Missouri.”

Still sounds like Missouri’s head is leading it to the SEC.

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Mizzou Could Announce Departure At Big 12 Meeting Today

Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton is planning to personally attend a Big 12 board of directors meeting today in Dallas.  There’s a growing belief in the Show-Me State that Deaton did not announce a full split with the Big 12 last weekend because he wanted to handle the breakup in person.  (Considering the back door deals and double-crosses of the expansion/realignment game, it’s almost shocking to see such a display of principles.) — the Rivals site covering the Tigers — reports that “the expectation is that Missouri will withdraw from the Big 12 at that time.”  (For the record, Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou is the son of Mike DeArmond of The Kansas City Star.)

Both sites believe Missouri will be welcomed into the SEC by the end of the week.  The Rivals site also includes the following in its report:  “Multiple sources have indicated that Missouri is likely to be placed in the Eastern Division of the SEC.”

On Saturday morning, we reiterated our previously-stated conclusions – based on what we’ve heard from sources at multiple SEC schools:

1.  Missouri will be in the SEC by the end of the week (with an announcement likely coming Wednesday, Thursday or Friday).

2.  The Tigers will be slotted in the SEC East.  (The why is something we also covered here on Friday.)

3.  And we stand by our view that the SEC will eventually go to a nine-game league schedule.

Nothing’s happened since Saturday to change our opinions.  In fact, what’s being reported in Missouri seems to confirm what you read here first.

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What Just Happened? A Quick Explainer Of Yesterday’s Missouri Presser

Since yesterday afternoon, talk show hosts across the country have blasted Missouri for not making a decision quickly enough to satisfy the desires of said talk show hosts.  Many a messageboard SEC fan has posted words to this effect, too: “If Missouri doesn’t want in by now, they can get lost.”

Here’s the problem with all that — Missouri officials never said, “Hey, we’ll have a big announcement on Friday!”  The school held its pre-scheduled board of curators meeting.  The media figured MU would talk expansion so they showed up.  The media — including this site — wrote that we expected a “we’re outta the Big 12″ announcement.  But MU officials never said that was coming.

What they did give yesterday was akin to a “we’re outta the Big 12″ announcement, however.

Here’s the simplified version:

* In early October, MU’s board of curators gave chancellor Brady Deaton the power to go out and explore the school’s conference options.

* A 45-page report examining the benefits of SEC membership was leaked to the press a short time later.

* This weekend, Deaton went back to the board of curators to explain what he’d found.  And in an unusual step, Missouri AD Mike Alden was also summoned before the board.

* After hearing Deaton’s findings, the board unanimously gave him the right to work out contracts with other conferences.  (And in a very telling exchange, Deaton admitted that MU and the SEC have already exchanged information.)

* Deaton can now work out a deal with Mike Slive and the SEC without having to return to the board for approval.  It’s all in his hands.  And you can be sure the board wouldn’t have proposed playing basketball and football games in Kansas City if Deaton was expected to keep MU in the Big 12.

* Very short version: “Go look around, Brady.  What’d you find, Brady?  Go cut a deal, Brady.”

* So why not just pull the trigger as the ACC and Syracuse and Pittsburgh recently did?  That’s a good question.  To be honest, I’m not sure of the timeline of those actions.  They were so surprising that it seemed as though John Swofford had simply picked up the phone, called the schools, asked if they wanted in, and then announced the move.  But I’ll guess the conversations back and forth probably had been going on for two weeks to a month prior to the actual announcement.  That would fall right in line with what’s happening with Missouri and the SEC.

* Missouri’s timeline so far has meshed identically with Texas A&M’s.  But if/when Mizzou decides to apply for membership, it’s likely they’ll be unconditionally welcomed more quickly than A&M because the threat of lawsuit is not as great (not after the Big 12 poached TCU from the Big East).

* Why do we say “if” when it’s clear we believe Missouri is SEC bound?  Because politics and money are involved.  Something could go wrong on one end or the other.  But it’s quite unlikely things will fall apart at this point.  The SEC and Missouri have been in contact.  Things wouldn’t have gotten to the point they did yesterday if the school or the conference didn’t want them to.  I heard one talk show host say yesterday that “Missouri just likes the spotlight.”  Good Lord.  If MU officials could end all this today and stop the thousands of booster, fan, donor and media calls they must be receiving daily, you know they would.

* We expect Deaton is now talking to Slive about divisional alignment, permanent opponents, scheduling, etc.  Once MU and Slive have a handle on things, the SEC’s commissioner will go back to his presidents — including those few who’ve been holding out on this one — and let them know of his and MU’s desires.  At that point, the presidents will fall in line and MU will be welcomed into the SEC.

Earlier this week we wrote that according to our sources around the SEC and inside multiple school’s administrations, we expected this all to be played out by the middle to end of the coming week.  We still feel that way.  As we noted earlier this week, Missouri and Texas A&M are scheduled to play football next weekend and a well-timed announcement could create an SEC “preview” in College Station.

It’s our belief that…

1.  In the next 7 days — barring any major fallouts between the parties — Missouri will be welcomed in as the SEC’s 14 member.  The Tigers will begin play next season in all sports.

2.  If they are as agreeable to it as has been suggested by sources in Columbia, the Tigers will be slotted for the SEC East.  (Surprising fact: Of the eight schools closest to Columbia, four are in the East Division).  As we explained here in great detail, we have been told that the SEC wants as easy a transition as possible and MU to the East protects every major rivalry in the league and requires no current school to shift divisions.  It’s the easiest possible transition.

3.  Missouri will likely have a say in who its permanent cross-divisional rival will be — as well as those other schools involved.  Arkansas is the closest campus to Mizzou and would make sense as a rival.  Texas A&M is farther away, but Gary Pinkel would surely like to keep his recruiting foothold in Texas alive.  One or the other will serve as the Tigers’ cross-divisional rival.

4.  Eventually — perhaps as many as five years down the line — the SEC will follow the lead of every other major conference and go to a nine-game league schedule (over the protests of the conference’s football coaches).  This will insure all SEC member institutions will face each other on a more regular basis.

5.  There is no drive to 16.  Our SEC sources have told us repeatedly that the league wasn’t looking to expand this summer.  When you’re highly successful, why mess with that success?  But when A&M came knocking — a school that had been flirting with the SEC since the mid-80s — the league couldn’t pass the chance to bring in such a perfect fit (one that also helps the league’s academic reputation and geographic footprint).  That required the finding of a 14th school.  The ACC was more stable than expected.  West Virginia wanted in as did smaller schools like East Carolina, but those institutions didn’t bring enough to the table.  Enter AAU member Missouri with its large state population and big TV markets.  That’s it.  If someone else changes the landscape of college athletics, perhaps the SEC will be forced to follow, but the league will not be the guinea pig when it comes to a 16-team league.  If someone tells you Slive wants to add two more teams, they’re not talking to any solid sources in the SEC, I can tell you that.  For now, the SEC is done with the expansion process…

Assuming nothing does fall apart with Mizzou.

Could we be wrong in our assessments?  Sure.  But we trust our sources.  And we were the only site to guarantee an eventual A&M/SEC marriage in July of 2010… as well as the only site to discuss Missouri as a good expansion option in May of 2010.  So we’ve been able to add 2 and 2 together pretty well in the past.

If we’re wrong, we’ll have our mea culpas prepared.  But we think this one’s about wrapped up and Missouri will land in the SEC East.

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MU Board Chairman: No SEC Talk “Until The Appropriate Time”

It doesn’t appear there will be any official word today regarding Missouri’s possible plans to leave the Big 12 for the SEC.  Warren Erdman — the chairman of MU’s board of curators — told The Kansas City Star this afternoon that he would not talk about any sort of timeline for a conference realignment decision “until the appropriate time.”

Yesterday, Erdman suggested that it might be Friday before he says anything on the subject… and that’s if he has something to say in the first place.

MU chancellor Brady Deaton was asked about Erdman’s comment that nothing will be said before tomorrow and he responded, “That would be consistent.”

Unless someone on the board springs a verbal leak later today or tonight, it looks like we’ll be waiting for official word tomorrow.

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A&M Denies Sending A Withdrawal Notice To Big 12

Oh, boy.  It looks like it’s gonna be one of those days.

Yesterday, trusting the Texas-based site, we linked to a report from that Rivals site stating that Texas A&M sources had said yesterday that the school would withdraw from the Big 12 today.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that A&M had already given a phoned departure notice to Brady Deaton, the chairman of the Big 12 board.  The NYT report claimed that “two college officials with direct knowledge of the decision” had tipped the paper.

A&M has denied that report this morning.

We still await official word from College Station.  Since both Texas A&M and the Big 12 offices are based in the Lone Star State, we’ll continue to give extra credence to Texas-based reports… as we did late last night/early this morning. 

Which is why we’re one of the few sites not having to backtrack this morning.

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