Missouri heads East to join SEC

Missouri heads East to join SEC

November 7th, 2011 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Missouri is moving to the Southeastern Conference neighborhood, and the Tigers soon may be residing on the same street as Georgia and Tennessee.

The league announced Sunday that Missouri will join the SEC effective July 1, 2012, and that the Tigers will compete in all sports during the 2012-13 academic year. Missouri becomes the 14th member of the conference and joins Texas A&M, which was introduced as the 13th member on Sept. 25.

Texas A&M and Missouri are the first expansions for the SEC since 1991, when Arkansas and South Carolina accepted invitations.

"I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans," league commissioner Mike Slive said in a release. "Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012."

The addition of Missouri gives the SEC three sets of Tigers, joining Auburn and LSU, and two sets of Columbia campuses, joining South Carolina.

Sunday's release did not specify which division Missouri would compete in football, but Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long posted on Twitter that the Tigers would start out in the East. Texas A&M is expected to vie in the West.

"I think that makes the most sense because we've already got 12 teams and six traditional rivalry games," Georgia football coach Mark Richt said, "and as you start taking one from the West to the East and one from the East to the West, then all of a sudden everything gets blown up. It probably made the most sense for scheduling and traditional rivalries not to get messed with."

By placing Missouri in the East and not Auburn, the league could preserve Alabama playing both Auburn and Tennessee annually.

Missouri is leaving the Big 12 Conference and is a former member of the Big Eight. Like Texas A&M, which will have its annual football rivalry with Texas come to an end, Missouri may be down to its last several athletic events against Kansas.

"The decision by the University of Missouri to leave the Big 12 Conference is disappointing," interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said Sunday in a statement. "Mizzou has been a valuable member, with a conference connection to schools in the Big 12 that dates back to 1907. I personally believe this decision is a mistake and that Missouri is a better fit in the Big 12."

Missouri will be the fourth SEC institution to hold membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities, joining Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Missouri has an enrollment of 33,800 students, which would make it the fourth largest in the league behind Florida, Texas A&M and Georgia.

The Tigers have been to six consecutive bowl games and three consecutive NCAA men's basketball tournaments.

"We expected this and read where this was going to happen, and so we welcome Missouri into the SEC," South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier said. "From what I understand, they're going to start playing next year. I'm not sure how they're doing the common opponents. From what I understand, Missouri may pick up Arkansas or may not, and we may pick up Texas A&M or may not.

"I don't know how all that is going to play out."