Missouri also directed Deaton to try to set up a holiday basketball tournament and annual football game in Kansas City with an unidentified rival -- Kansas would fit the bill -- moves designed to answer critics who say departing the Big 12 will gut storied traditions that date back decades. Missouri and Kansas have played each other in football for 119 years.
The move also is designed to blunt concerns that the Big 12 won't have a reason to continue holding its basketball championship tournament in Kansas City or schedule a Kansas-Missouri football game there if Missouri bolts the Big 12.
Ed McKechnie, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, which governs both the University of Kansas and Kansas State, said Missouri's departure from the Big 12 would be "a massive blow" to the area. He said it would be difficult to keep the basketball tournament in Kansas City if Missouri left.
"The traditions surrounding the Big 12 tournament are a big deal," McKechnie said. "I believe the Big 12 is the right place for KU and K-State."
Just this week, Kansas basketball coaches Bill Self and Bonnie Henrickson both said they wouldn't be inclined to play Missouri if the Tigers go elsewhere.
Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger called Kansas-Missouri a great rivalry but didn't commit to any sort of plan for the future.
"The University of Kansas is a great Midwestern school, loyal to our Midwestern conference and to our Midwestern roots," Zenger said. "The KU-Missouri rivalry belongs in the Big 12 Conference. Should Missouri decide to leave the Big 12, we would wish them well."
Erdman insisted that if Missouri leaves the Big 12, the curators are "committed to doing what we can to preserve the rich tradition and heritage that is very important to us here."
Missouri basketball guard Kim English said players don't care about the university's conference and that he's not losing any sleep over the possibility of not playing Kansas every year.
"It has nothing to do with players in general," English said. "I didn't come here just because it was the Big 12."
AP Sports Writers David Brandt and John Zenor contributed to this report. Also contributing were John Milburn in Topeka, Kan., and freelance writer Doug Tucker in Kansas City, Mo.
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