Nebraska, Mizzou weigh options

Updated: June 9, 2010, 11:41 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Nebraska's decision on whether to commit long term to the Big 12 or leave for a potential Big Ten invitation could come on Friday, a school told ESPN.com's Andy Katz on Tuesday.

The source said the school is leaning toward the Big Ten, but an invitation hadn't yet been extended, and there was no indication when that would occur. The consensus within the athletic department is that Nebraska wouldn't separate itself from the Big 12 without some assurance that a Big Ten invitation would come, the source said. The Big Ten has set no date for any announcement in the coming weeks, leaving open the possibility that Nebraska could be left in limbo.

Sources at two other Big 12 schools told the Omaha World-Herald that their athletic directors have instructed them to be ready by week's end for a briefing on probable Big 12 changes.

Earlier this week, the Big 12 imposed a deadline of Friday for Nebraska and Missouri to state their intentions on whether they intend to bolt the conference, with the possibility of an extension for a decision by next Tuesday, The Austin American-Statesman reported, citing two sources.

The Big 12's university presidents decided on imposing the ultimatum, two highly placed officials within two of the conference schools said, according to the newspaper.

The Nebraska Board of Regents plans to meet on Friday, though it's not immediately clear if that governing board will discuss conference affiliation, in public or private.

But public records provided to the Associated Press show that the topic is far from off limits. In a brief e-mail to Chancellor Harvey Perlman sent on April 20, athletic director Tom Osborne urges his boss to set up a meeting to discuss conference expansion.

Osborne said he requested the meeting after speaking with his friend and colleague, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes coach was in Lincoln one day earlier to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet.

On his monthly appearance on the Husker Sports Network Tuesday, Osborne offered confirmation that the timetable on national conference realignment has been accelerated.

"I think before too long -- I don't know exactly what that timeframe is -- we'll be able to put this to bed." Then he jokingly added, "because I'm getting tired of it."

Big 12 school presidents and athletic directors concluded a four-day meeting in Kansas City last week with no clear sense -- at least publicly -- that the 14-year-old league will survive.

Assistant commissioner Bob Burda said Tuesday that the Big 12 is done talking about expansion and conference realignment, for now anyway.

"There will be no further comment from the conference," he told the AP. "We're in a quiet period right now."

The Big Ten announced late last year it is considering adding at least one school, and possibly more, to add a league championship game in football and broaden the reach of its cable television network. Its decision has created a ripple throughout the power conferences, causing the Pac-10 to mull its own expansion and threatening the survival of the Big 12, which in addition to Missouri and Nebraska could also lose as many as six schools to a 16-team Pac-10.

"There's a lot of information we really don't have right now," Osborne said. "Hopefully we'll get these put together in the next few days.

"Anything I would say regarding Nebraska's position or other schools in the Big 12 would be pure speculation. And I don't think that's very helpful."

University of Missouri curators appear poised to discuss the school's possible interest in joining an expanded Big Ten. But any inquiring reporters need not bother asking about a move that could trigger a seismic shift in college sports.

The 10-member Board of Curators meets Thursday and Friday in Columbia amid reports of the Friday deadline.

An agenda released Tuesday afternoon says the curators and system president Gary Forsee won't comment on "Big Ten or Big 12 athletics matters" at the sessions.

But the agenda also shows curators will take the unusual step of meeting in a closed session as soon as they arrive on Thursday morning. And they will meet again behind closed doors after Friday's public session, as is customary.

None of the nine curators contacted Tuesday by the AP responded to a request for comment. And a university spokeswoman responded to questions about the meeting as well as whether the school has hired its own consultant to study conference realignment with a three-sentence statement that was previously issued and emphasizes its current conference affiliation.

Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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