Stillwater News Press

September 19, 2011

Regents give University of Oklahoma President David Boren authority to make a conference change

CNHI News Service

TULSA — The University of Oklahoma is still a member of the Big 12 Conference, at least for now.

The OU Board of Regents agreed Monday to give OU President David Boren the authority to explore options for conference affiliation and to take action when decision time comes.

No decision was made Monday.

If OU is to leave the Big 12 Conference, Boren said after the meeting that the primary focus would be on the Pac-12 Conference. Boren said he has had informal conversations with Pac-12 officials that he called “very warm, very receptive.”

However, Boren also said the board’s action “is not a Texas A&M-like situation,” referring to that university’s well-known interest in joining the Southeastern Conference. Boren said conversations also continue with Big 12 Conference officials.

“This is not an announcement that we are leaving for the Pac-12,” Boren said. “No one should read into today that we have made a decision.”

Boren did not rule out staying in the Big 12, though he said threats of lawsuits by some member schools indicate instability within the conference. Boren said he is looking for conference stability, which he said is built on stability and trust, over the long term.

The OU president reaffirmed the university’s commitment to remain aligned with Oklahoma State University, but he gave no such assurance in staying connected with the University of Texas. Boren said OU and Texas have a healthy rivalry and are almost like family, but the universities are not necessarily tethered because they have different perspectives.

“We are not going to cede our sovereignty to anybody else, to any other university in any other state,” Boren said.

Boren would not give a timetable on when a decision would be made, but he repeated his earlier comment of wanting the matter to end sooner rather than later.