Gov says Missouri should consider Big Ten

By DAVID A. LIEB
Associated Press Writer

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The
University of Missouri should consider leaving the Big 12 and joining
the Big Ten Conference if it gets an offer to do so, Gov. Jay Nixon
said Friday.

The Big Ten said this week
that it will be exploring over the next 12-18 months whether to expand
its membership. It did not mention which schools it might add, if it
decided to do so.

Missouri currently is
part of the Big 12 Conference, which was formed in the mid-1990s when
the Big 8 added four Texas universities.


Nixon said his alma mater should be open to the possibility of
switching, primarily because he says the Big Ten has some excellent
academic programs.

“I’m not going to say
anything bad about the Big 12, but when you compare Oklahoma State to
Northwestern, when you compare Texas Tech to Wisconsin, I mean, you
begin looking at educational possibilities that are worth looking at,”
Nixon said in an interview with The Associated Press.


“If a significant conference with a long history of academic and
athletic excellence talks about you joining them, you shouldn’t just
say, `We’re from the old Big 8 and I remember when …

“If they want to talk, we should talk, and we should listen,” Nixon added.

Missouri currently has a reciprocal tuition agreement with Kansas for several degree programs.


Those deals allow Missouri residents to study architecture at in-state
tuition rates at the University of Kansas or Kansas State University.
In exchange, Kansas residents can study dentistry or optometry at
in-state tuition rates in the University of Missouri system.

Nixon suggested Missouri could develop similar academic arrangements with Big Ten universities.


He acknowledged that sports — and the revenues they generate — also
would be a factor in any conference switch. But Nixon noted Missouri
already regularly plays Illinois in sports and added that Missouri
could continue to play archrival Kansas each year, even if it changed
conferences.