Corey DeMoss, News9.com
TULSA, Oklahoma – The University of Oklahoma board of regents met Monday and gave President David Boren the power to determine the school's future athletic conference alignment.
The discussion of conference realignment was one of the final items on the board's agenda, and it decided to call a closed executive session to discuss it. After talking for more than an hour, the board announced its decision to grant Boren alignment power.
The decision means that Boren now can choose to have OU leave the Big 12, which could become part of a seismic shift throughout collegiate athletics.
The Oklahoma program reportedly has been in talks with the Pac-12 for weeks. Boren said on Sept. 2 that OU had been courted by multiple other conferences, and that he was listening to offers.
Since then, several reports have surfaced saying four teams from the Big 12 – Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech – have plans to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-12. Texas and OSU both have scheduled their own regents meetings to discuss the issue.
The OU board of regents' decision mirrors the one made by Texas A&M's board in August, when it gave the same power to President R. Bowen Loftin. Loftin quickly used that power to declare that the Aggies would leave the Big 12, presumably to join the SEC.
The University of Baylor responded by filing a lawsuit to try to legally block Texas A&M's move, and sides have been in a stalemate since. The Aggies still have not been officially accepted by another conference.
The potential dissolution of the Big 12 comes one year after it seemed doomed to the same fate, when mainstays Nebraska and Colorado both left. But commissioner Dan Beebe managed to pull the conference together with only 10 teams.
This time, with one team definitely out and possibly four more joining it, the conference itself is in danger of being eliminated altogether. Other reports have indicated that if the Big 12 does indeed lose those five schools, Missouri would attempt to join the Big Ten. If that also transpires, the Big 12 would be left with only four teams.
The Big 12 is not the only one being affected by the shifting landscape of college athletics. On Sunday, the ACC unanimously voted to accept basketball powerhouses Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East.
That will leave the Big East Conference with only six teams, but it will gain a seventh when TCU joins next year. With both the Big 12 and Big East losing schools to other conferences, some reports have indicated the two leagues may try combining into one conference.