As The World (Or The Big 12) Turns

Unless something major happens in the next few days, it appears Oklahoma State fans can begin packing their bags for trips to Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco. With Nebraska's announcement Friday to leave the Big 12 Conference for the Big Ten, and Colorado's decision to move to the Pac-10, the puzzle pieces are fitting together for an exodus of more Big 12 teams, including Oklahoma State.

The Austin American-Statesman reported Friday that Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech will join the Pac-10 Conference once each receives a formal invitation from the conference, according to a high-ranking Big 12 official.

Each of the four schools should receive a formal invitation this weekend, the Big 12 official said.

Texas A&M could also receive an invitation to join the Pac-10 but President R. Bowen Loftin reportedly wants to explore joining the Southeastern Conference. A&M reportedly has 72 hours to make a decision whether it will join the five other Big 12 schools in joining the Pac-10.

The Texas board of regents has scheduled a meeting for 11 a.m. Tuesday for "discussion and appropriate action regarding athletic conference membership." Texas Tech's board of regents has scheduled a meeting for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The Oklahoma State board of regents had not scheduled a meeting as of early Friday evening.

With Nebraska's board of regents voting early Friday to apply for admittance into the Big 10, and the conference's Council of Presidents/Chancellors voted to approve the application later in the day, that means the Big 12's days are numbered.

OSU spokesman Gary Shutt issued the following statement on Friday: "As we noted yesterday, we will need to evaluate our options and opportunities in light of today's announcement by Nebraska and Colorado's announcement yesterday. Our desire has always been to keep the Big 12 Conference together, and we have worked toward that end alongside several other Big 12 institutions.

"We are pleased Oklahoma State University has opportunities and we believe it is a reflection of the strength of our overall athletic and academic programs. We believe the investments we have made during the past five years to upgrade our athletic facilities, especially football, as well as several new and upgraded academic and research facilities have placed us in a good position," Shutt said in a news release.

Pearlman said the decision to seek admittance into the Big Ten was easy considering the uncertainties about the long-term stability of the Big 12.

"Other schools in the Big 12 some time ago began to indicate interest in moving to other conferences," Perlman said Friday. "With the presidents of the other Big 12 schools unwilling to make a long-term commitment to the Big 12, we realized that our first priority had to be acting in the best interest of Nebraska. Waiting to see what other Big 12 schools decided to do would have placed Nebraska in a vulnerable position."

The Nebraska board of regents endorsed the decision by Perlman and athletic director Tom Osborne to join the Big Ten.

"You can choose to sit by, wait and watch what happens . . . or you can be proactive to protect the best interests of the University and the State of Nebraska," said Regents Chairman Bob Phares. "Today's decision is based on what we believe is best for us in athletics, academics, research potential and long-term stability."

Perlman said Friday that the Big 12 asked for a commitment from Nebraska through at least 2016 at last week's conference meetings in Kansas City. Perlman said that Nebraska then asked for a commitment from Texas that it would assign all athletic broadcast rights to the conference and not begin its own network. Texas declined, said Perlman.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds issued the following statement after Nebraska's announcement to leave the Big 12: "Our goals and hopes all along have been to keep the Big 12 Conference intact. The league has been great for its members. We also have been honorable, up front and forthright with regard to our work and responsiveness to all the possible and now definitive changes to conference landscapes. We are entrusted with the responsibility of administering our university athletics programs. That requires careful examination of any and all options. It is both premature and inappropriate to speculate on what our UT System Regents will discuss at next Tuesday's meeting. But, as the dynamics of the Big 12 continue to change around us, we will utilize additional time to continue our work and evaluate our options.

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