Pac-16? Big 12 cancels news conference amid rumors of breakup

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After daylong discussions regarding the possible breakup of the Big 12, a scheduled news conference was abruptly canceled, fueling speculation that the 12 schools are far from agreement.

A short time earlier, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione had indicated the member schools did not reach the unity that many had hoped these meetings would achieve.

Perhaps also complicating the process was a report out of Texas on Thursday afternoon that the Pac-10 might invite six Big 12 schools to join and form two eight-team divisions. Some Big 12 and Pac-10 officials met informally several few weeks ago to discuss a possible scheduling and television alliance between the leagues.

Speculation of a possible breakup of the 14-year-old Big 12 exploded this spring when the Big Ten said it might expand and Nebraska and Missouri indicated interest.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and Texas president Bill Powers had been scheduled to brief reporters at the end of the day on Thursday, the third day of the league's spring meetings.

But after a separate meeting of the presidents ran an hour long, Beebe emerged to say -- as he was pursued by reporters into a waiting elevator -- that the news conference would be on Friday.

"The board is still in session.We won't conclude until tomorrow and we're not going to have any kind of comments about anything the board has been considering or acting upon until tomorrow."

He refused to elaborate.

In Thursday's joint meeting of athletic directors and presidents, Oklahoma's Joe Castiglione said the ADs all gave their recommendation about whether the league should stay together.

Apparently, the unanimity that many members were hoping to forge proved elusive.

"We all had a chance to express our thoughts," Castiglione said when asked if any of the athletic directors indicated they might want to leave.

So does that mean not everyone was united?

"Everybody expressed their thoughts," he said.

Castiglione and Oklahoma president David Boren have been adamant in their desire to keep the league intact.

"Each athletic director had a chance to convey their thoughts about the future of our conference, and that was great," Castiglione said. "A lot of passion about the Big 12 in that room, I can promise you that."

While the Big 12 presidents were meeting Thursday afternoon, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott played down a report that the Pac-10 planned to invite Big 12 members Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado. The report in Orangebloods.com, the Texas site on Rivals.com, said the Pac-10 would split into two eight-team divisions.

"We have not developed any definitive plans," said Scott. "We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term."

The Pac-10 meetings are this weekend and Scott said the conference continues to conduct an "exhaustive and proactive" evaluation of the league and its future.

Castiglione said possible ties with the Pac-10 were discussed on Thursday.

"I think there's some potential value there," he said. "We had one meeting with some of the members of the Pac-10. It wasn't a scheduled meeting. We brainstormed some of the possibilities that may exist. Since then, both our commissioner and Larry Scott have had conversations. It leads one to believe there are some real viable opportunities for both leagues."

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said he and others had been led to believe the Pac-10 was on the verge of issuing invitations to six members of the Big 12.

"The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it," Bohn told the Boulder Daily Camera.

Asked if Oklahoma had had any conversation with the Pac-10 about some Big 12 schools joining up and leaving others behind, Castiglione said, "Not yet. Hopefully, I don't have to."

As the meetings were beginning Thursday morning, the head of the University of Missouri gave no assurances the Tigers intend to remain in the Big 12.

"We're not shutting our ears to anything," said chancellor Brady Deaton. "I'm sure every school here has a responsibility to its own institution as primary responsibility. Conference realignment is something we do for our athletic programs."

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)


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