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Big 12 or Pac-12? OU president David Boren wants to see a result ‘sooner than later'

BY TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, Published: September 19, 2011

TULSA — By the end of the business day here Monday, the University of Oklahoma remained one of 10 tentative members of the Big 12 Conference.

A meeting of the school's board members did not change that, even if OU president David Boren spent just as much, if not more, time afterward talking about the Pac-12 than his institution's current league.

“I think, at this point in time, we want to examine all of our options,” Boren said following a meeting that included a 90-minute executive session to primarily discuss OU's conference future. “I would say that the principle focus, beyond the Big 12 itself – which is still a focus for us – is the Pac-12.”

Boren acknowledged he has engaged in “very warm” and “very constructive” talks with the Pac-12. He followed that by saying he had spoken constructively, too, with some Big 12 presidents.

The former governor and U.S. Senator did not establish a specific timeline for the next OU move, even though he said Sept. 2 that he expected some sort of resolution by this week.

“I'd still love to see a result sooner rather than later,” he said. “I think that it's best for everyone involved if we can reach a conclusion, reach a decision, as soon as possible.”

The only official movement Monday by OU was to, as expected, grant Boren authority to make alignment decisions. Texas' board did the same thing at nearly the same time, with respects to UT's president, William Powers.

Texas A&M did the same last month, and it was seen as a precursor to the school leaving the Big 12 and applying for membership with the Southeastern Conference. Boren explicitly cautioned against thinking OU was doing the same thing Monday.

A couple of different times, he insisted the Big 12 is not yet dead, even if it has been left fractured by the departures or potential departures of now three schools, including also last year's defections by Colorado and Nebraska.

But even in making the statement of Big 12 hope, Boren still fit the Pac-12 into the same breath.

“I think there is a possibility the Big 12 survives,” Boren said. “We have not taken off the table our possibility of remaining in the Big 12. That's an option we've not taken off the table.

“Nor have we taken off the option of going to the Pac-12. Of course, the ball would be in our court to make application for membership, should we decide to do so.”

The Big 12 office released a statement Monday evening saying it was not caught off guard by the decisions made by the league's two foremost members. Commissioner Dan Beebe has not yet given up, he said.

“It is my opinion that the case for the Big 12 Conference continues to be as strong today for all of our current members as it was last year,” Beebe said. “We continue to apply all effort and resources toward assuring our members that maintaining the Big 12 is in the best interest for their institutions.”

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