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Southern hospitality: The Southeastern Conference welcomes Mizzou

MU student Center

The University of Missouri will become the Southeastern Conference's 14th member, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton announced at a press conference in the MU Student Center. Attendance at the Nov. 6, 2011, event was 1,644. Photo by Nicholas Benner

In front of 1,644 vocal students, staff, faculty and alumni at the MU Student Center, Chancellor Brady J. Deaton announced that Mizzou will officially begin competition as the 14th member institution of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) July 1, 2012.

“The University of Missouri and the Southeastern Conference are joined in a commitment to excellence on the athletic field and in the classroom,” Deaton said. “We’re not abandoning our past at all. In fact we’re expanding upon it and we’re fulfilling that historical frontier tradition that has marked the University of Missouri from the very beginning.”

SEC

Signs such as the one above were displayed at the Nov. 6, 2011, announcement of the University of Missouri joining the Southeastern Conference.

Joining Deaton for the Nov. 6, 2011, announcement were SEC Commissioner Mike Slive; Bernie Machen, president of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida; and MU Director of Athletics Mike Alden.

The SEC Presidents and Chancellors unanimously voted to accept Mizzou, which will join the Eastern Division alongside Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Media speculation about the conference switch, which ends a 104-year relationship with the Big 12 Conference and its previous incarnations, had been rampant since before the start of the 2010 football season. Speculation also raised the topic of the future of Mizzou’s century-old rivalry with the University of Kansas.

“MU’s involvement (in Kansas City) is not going to diminish in any way,” Deaton said. “The MU Board of Curators asked us to explore a basketball tournament in Kansas City and football matches with key rivals. All that continues.”

The universities of Colorado and Nebraska also left the Big 12 for the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences, respectively, before the 2011 season.

“In our bylaws, there is about a half a sentence about what it takes to leave,” said Slive. “If you don’t like us, you don’t have to be with us and nobody has left.”

Alden cited equal institutional treatment and conference stability as the top two priorities when MU began exploring other conferences compared with the Big 12.

“When people started talking about limits to how long you’re going to be together — kind of like a pre-nup — that was something we didn’t necessarily see as strong when you’re trying to look at a league,” Alden said.

Founded in 1932, the SEC added Arkansas and South Carolina in 1991. Texas A&M also left the Big 12 to officially join the conference on Sept. 25, 2011. MU is one of four SEC member institutions of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The others are Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

“Missouri is known as the Show-Me State,” Alden said. “This is an opportunity to step up and show people who we are.”

The Tigers have a long history playing its new conference brethren. See a slideshow of games dating back to 1895, in which the Tigers are 25-15-1 against our neighbors to the south.