Mizzou-SEC Press Conference Quotes

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Brady Deaton and Mike Slive</i>
Brady Deaton and Mike Slive

Nov. 6, 2011

Dr. Brady Deaton, MU Chancellor
Opening Statement:
"This is a great crowd of people who are proud to be Tigers. It is such an exciting moment in the history of this university. We think it's appropriate, timely, and we're headed in the right direction. It's really exciting for me to be able to announce that we will become members of the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2012."

On the input he received from the MU community:
"I received thousands of e-mails from you and I appreciate the flexibility you gave us to make a sound decision for the University of Missouri and its future. Thank you to all of you who have lent your voices throughout this process. We are here because of the support you have given the University."

On key figures who assisted throughout the process:
"I have to thank our Board of Curators, represented today by Don Downing. The Board of Curators had faith in the university, they had faith in you (MU students and fans), and they had faith in those of us who are charged with administering the university. Our curators have done so much to bring this to fruition today. I also thank Steve Owens, president of the University of Missouri System. This team, along with our Director of Athletics Mike Alden, have worked on this project for several weeks. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to take this step for giving a new beginning to Tiger Athletics."

On Mizzou's positive outlook as it moves to the SEC:
This is an opportunity to fulfill the expectations and the promise and the potential of the University of Missouri in a way that we have not had the opportunity in the past. The University of Missouri has taken a bold step because it fits with the tradition of our university. MU set the pace as the first university west of the Mississippi, and now we're moving to one of the fastest-growing regions and one of the most illustrious athletic conferences in the nation in the Southeastern Conference. We are proud to be where we are."

On the new partnership between MU and the SEC:
"The University of Missouri and the Southeastern Conference have joined in a commitment to excellence on the athletic field and in the classroom with our student-athletes, faculty and staff, who are committed to path-breaking roles in expanding what higher education is doing today. We are promoting economic development and job creation through research and scholarship."

On MU's path forward:
"We aren't forgetting our past at all; in fact, we're expanding on it. There is a historical frontier tradition that has marked MU from its beginning. We're building a new future, one that we can be very proud of and that we're here to celebrate today. This spirit of inclusivity as we explore each other's cultures and the diversity of our people and the economic and social relationships that are so important to why you're here studying, joined with our faculty, program directors, coaches and student-athletes."

On the importance of the work he and Mike Alden have done:
"Mike Aldenand I are committed to joining the best of Missouri athletics with the best of our athletic programs from the very beginning. This is a major step toward exploring a future that yields new promise for us as we take these very important steps in building the future of our university."

On the input he received from fans students:
"It's been a thoughtful and deliberative process to get us to this point. Your voice has been heard on these issues, and your common theme has been faith that we would do what is best for MU, and we're here to celebrate that step of what is best for the university."

Dr. Bernie Machen, University of Florida President and president of the SEC board of presidents and chancellors
Opening Statement:
"Hello Mizzou! I grew up a Mizzou fan, I'm still a Mizzou fan, and other than when you play the Gators, I'll always be a Mizzou fan. My wife grew up in St. Louis as well, so we feel like we really are coming home. I can tell you that we're so excited to have you in the Southeastern Conference. It's going to be a great relationship, and we can't wait. It looks like we at Florida might be playing you next year, and we're excited to start that competition."

On similarities between MU and its SEC brethren:
"Your university and most of the ones in the SEC are land-grants; were committed to our states and our regions, and there are similarities that cut across more than the athletic program. The one thing I know for sure we all have in common is that we all want to win. We all want to be the best, and you'll be a fully functioning SEC member the day you open your fall seasons next year. You can win the SEC in any of the sports you compete in, so welcome to the SEC."

Mike Alden, MU Director of Athletics
Opening Statement:
"It's great to see such a big crowd here. Thank you so much for coming today. We are so excited for all of us to be together on this historic day in the history of the University of Missouri. We have great leadership here, folks who are truly progressive and committed to doing what we need to do here as the land-grant institution of the state of Missouri, academically, research-wise, from a standpoint of student experience and in athletics."

On the importance of MU's athletic community:
"We would not be here if not for the great coaches and student-athletes we have at MU. For all of those who came before us and all those student-athletes and coaches who are here today, we say thank you."

On the support Mizzou's fan base provides:
"Tiger nation includes Zou Crew, Tiger's Lair, SAB, and all the other great associations we have here with the University of Missouri. We have a great fan base throughout the entire state. We have great alumni and friends of the university, and we have made a statement nationally as to what our expectations are for a program that's based on academic integrity, social responsibility and competitive excellence. This is the mandate we've received from our fans, friends, alumni and students."

On the leadership shown by Chancellor Deaton:
"Our CEO on this campus, Brady Deaton, and his wife, Anne, are unbelievable. They believe wholeheartedly in the academic, research and athletic missions of this institution."

On the athletic department's role within the university:
"We see athletics as one component of this institution. We're certainly not the most important thing by any means. Education, research and student experience are the most important. We just happen to be like the front porch. We're very visible, and we have an opportunity to showcase these great assets we have as an institution and as a state. These assets are reflected through the values of our university: Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence. Those are the values that we hold true."

On MU's athletic history:
"The first athletic competition at MU was a football game in 1890. A lot of work has been done over the past 121 years to get us to a position where we can join forces with the strongest athletic conference in the country in the SEC. That would never have been possible without all those years of opportunities, successes and challenges. We thank our friends in the Big 12 Conference for 15 great years, and we wish them nothing but the best."

On MU's opportunities in the SEC:
"As we move forward, we have an opportunity to join the SEC, and with that future, we have to recognize the opportunity to show the country who we are as far as compassionate, hard-working and welcoming student-athletes and fans."

On SEC Commissioner Mike Slive:
"The leadership we see in the SEC is exemplified through many things. You see great success academically, collaboratively and athletically, and all of that stems from the leader they have there. Mike Slive has led the SEC for nearly a decade, and he's presided over a period of growth that has shaped college athletics in a positive way, and it's so great for us to be associated with Commissioner Slive and his conference."

Mike Slive, SEC Commissioner
Opening Statement:
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased and proud to welcome you to the family of the Southeastern Conference. We know that Homecoming is a special tradition here at Missouri, so let me say to the entire Missouri Nation, welcome to your new home."

On the leaders who made MU's move the SEC possible:
On behalf of our presidents and chancellors, I want to express our appreciation to Gov. Jay Nixion, the Board of Curators, Chancellor Brady Deaton, President Steve Owens, Counselor Phil Hoskins and my dear friend, Director of Athletics Mike Alden. Without the work of your Missouri team, this great day would never have happened."

"We are proud to welcome this great university, founded in 1839 as the first public institution west of the Mississippi and the first in the Louisiana Territory. By any measure, the University of Missouri is one of the nation's outstanding academic institutions. It joins Florida, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt as SEC schools in the American Association of Universities. Missouri is one of only five schools in the nation with a law, medical and veterinary school and a research reactor on campus."

"Like your new sister institutions in the SEC, Missouri takes great pride in its athletic tradition. 500 student-athletes compete for national championships at the highest level in 20 sports. Your men's basketball team has made the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons and 24 times overall. The Tiger football team has been to postseason bowl games for six of the last seven years, and 28 times overall. The softball team has participated in the College World Series in each of the last three seasons, and you have won Big 12 Championshipsin basketball, soccer and softball."

"These recent successes have been made possible by Tiger Hall-of-Fame legends like Coaches Don Faurot, Dan Devine and Norm Stewart, and by great student-athletes like Kellen Winslow, Norris Stevenson and many others. Mizzou emphasizes the student in student-athlete, and Mizzou set a record in 2010-11 with an 80-percent Graduation Success Rate, with nearly 60 percent of your student-athletes earning a 3.0 grade-point average or better. That's a record to be very proud of."

"Missouri's traditions, like the Memorial Union Whisper Walk and Hat Tip to honor fallen soldiers, speak to the character of the university. Of course, we look forward to visiting Ninth Street, eating pizza at Shakespeare's and playing pool at Booches."

"In closing, from Kansas City to St. Louis, from Kennett to St. Joe, from Hannibal to Joplin, and to our friends here in Columbia, on behalf of Dr. Machen and our administrators, students, coaches and fans, we welcome Mizzou's students and alumni into the SEC family. I know you pronounce it "Missouri," and I know you pronounce it "Missourah," but all Tiger fans say, "M-I-Z! Z-O-U!"

SEC Press Conference (11/6)


On MU’s entrance date into the SEC and leaving the Big 12...

Chancellor Brady Deaton:
“We have been very front-forward in assessing the possibility and trying to be fair to both conferences, and that led us to the date of July 1, 2012. We hope that that can be resolved and effective with the schedules of other teams and other conference alignments. We’re hopeful that we’re past that. 

On the divisional set-up in the SEC...

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive:
“We have decided in the league that Missouri will play in our eastern division. That allows us to maintain our divisional rivalries and serves us very well with the least amount of disruption.”

 On the suggestion that the move started with Missouri’s interest in the Big Ten...

 MU Athletics Director Mike Alden:
“I certainly think that folks that have speculated about Missouri being in this position or not, it was speculation and continued to be for quite some time. I think to suggest that Mizzou was kind of at the center of looking at other conferences, I’d suggest that there were a variety of institutions around the country that were taking a look at where there conference set-ups may be the best. For us, we were trying to make sure to do what was in the best interest for Mizzou every step of the way, and for us, it was the opportunity to be associated with the SEC.” 

On MU’s full integration into the SEC...

“When you are a member of the SEC, you are a member in every sense of the word from July 1. We share financially, we share in decision making and we share everything that we do in an equal way, and it really is one of the things that makes it for me a great pleasure to be the commissioner of this league.” 

On steps being taken to preserve the rivalry with Kansas...

“I think everyone in here recognizes that our rivalry with the University of Kansas is one of the great rivalries in our country; it’s gone on for, I believe, 119 years. It certainly is our hope and desire to continue to participate against Kansas in every sport we play in for the next 119 years. I think to suggest that to have conference affiliation be a requirement by why one would have to participate against another institution, I don’t know if that necessarily holds water. Take a look at Florida/Florida State, Georgia/Georgia Tech, you look at Kentucky/Louisville, Clemson/South Carolina, there are examples of that all over the country.

It’s very important to us. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the University of Kansas. We enjoy participating against them. In every stretch of the imagination, that is a longtime rivalry and it is our hope and intention that we have the opportunity to play against the University of Kansas for many years to come.” 

On potential upgrades to athletic facilities...

“We understand that there is a constant commitment towards what we are trying to do with our athletic program. We’ve seen that over the course of the last 10-15 years with facility improvements, recruiting budgets, what we are doing with our coaching staff and beyond. We have to keep that pace going and we have to keep moving forward. I would tell you that stepping into the SEC, it’s important that we recognize how important that is, and that we may need to continue to turn that up even another notch. This is a great conference in our country and it is important that we continue that commitment.

We have heard back from our leadership team at Mizzou. We have heard back from our donor base, from our fans, from our alums, from our Tiger Scholarship members and from our student-athletes, and I am very confident knowing that we have a commitment going forward to continuing that movement towards improvement in all areas of our athletic program.”

On the steps taken to explore the move... 

“We were looking for longterm stability as a university and who we were associated with, who we were going to develop longterm partnerships with so we could have financial security in our planning. We spoke to large numbers of groups, our alumni base and our development planning group, and the single message that came through was, as we looked at continuing instability in the conference we were in, to look at alternatives. That’s what the board of curators charged us with doing. When they asked me in early October to begin exploring what was the best options for Missouri’s athletic future and for our future as a university in service to the state of Missouri, our broad statewide mandate was never backed away from or forgotten in the entire process. Our athletic program will continue to thrive and demonstrate that it is a power for the state of Missouri. We feel very good about where we are right now and our partnership we have, membership in the Southeastern Conference.”

On the compatibility of midwest and southern culture...

“I’ve emphasized the frontier nature of Missouri. We were that westward push and we’re now pushing to continuing new frontiers. There is nothing incompatible between midwestern culture and southeastern culture. It is certainly one of the most diverse in the nation, from my perspective. This is a great era for demonstrating inclusivity and everything we are doing as a university.”

University of Florida President Bernie Machen:
“Let me echo that. First of all, look at our institutions and they are very similar. Commitment, first of all, to academics, commitment to student-athletes, commitment to graduation, all of that fits real well with the Southeastern Conference and the University of Missouri. I think this culture stuff between the midwest and the southeast is way overdone. I grew up in St. Louis and I happen to now live in the state of Florida, and we have more midwesterners in Florida than you do up here right now.” 

On the impact on MU academics and research...

“Research and academic programs continue, as you’re well aware of. We are not making changes in alliances. Our faculty work with faculty around the world. Clearly the quality of the institutions in the Southeastern Conference is another set of collaborative institutions. We would hope that as we work together and get to know each other it would simply expand the footprint that colleagues in all parts of the Southeastern Conference can work with colleagues here at the University of Missouri and build an even brighter future in that regard. This is nothing but a win-win in that regard, as far as I see it, for the Southeastern Conference and the University of Missouri.”

On the state of the MU wrestling program...

“I spent quite a bit of time with Brian Smith, our wrestling coach, and some of our student-athletes as well. Our wrestling program is one of the top ten, top fifteen programs in the country, and we are very proud of that. We know and understand that the opportunities to participate, even though there won’t be any other teams in the SEC that participates in wrestling, those opportunities in the western and midwestern regions of the country continue to be there for duals between former institutions, or institutions in the Big 12 we participated against, the Pac-12 or whatever that may be is still going to give us a great opportunity to continue to expand our wrestling program and also to be able to put guys in the NCAA Championships to compete for the championships. We feel pretty comfortable with that particular direction.”

On expected gifts from donors...

“We have quite a bit of enthusiasm. When folks first started to hear about the SEC opportunity, and perhaps our opportunity to apply to the SEC, that enthusiasm, I believe, is going to translate into greater support for our organization through season ticket sales, through donations to the general scholarship fund and through major gifts in our upcoming capital campaign. The capital campaign for the institution, that will be kicking off fairly soon, Mizzou athletics is a big push into that. I know Dr. Deaton is challenging us with a pretty high number, but I know with the enthusiasm that I’ve seen over the last several weeks is indicating that we are looking forward to some gifts.”

On revenue sharing in the SEC...

“In many ways we’ve talked for a long time about what we thought were some pretty critical aspects to a strength with an association with a conference. That had to do with how is everyone treated equally. Are we all treated equally at the table? Another thing we thought was critically important had to do with who are your teammates? How long have they been there? How long are they going to be there? How we communicate with one another. What is the footprint like in the landscape in terms of television contracts? What type of exposure are you going to have? Are you going to be linked together?

When people start talking about limits on how long they are going to be together, kind of like a prenup, that is not something we necessarily seen as being charmed when you look at the league. Those kinds of aspects, which never really talk about how much money people make, had to do with are you treated equally, how is everybody going to be at the table, who are those teammates, what’s your footprint like nationally and how long are you going to be together. That comfort level we saw in the SEC has been something that is outstanding for us. Those are the kind of characteristics we are looking for.”

“We’re 78 years old and Mizzou is only the fourth institution in the 78 year history of the SEC to be admitted to the conference. There is a lot of stability in our bylaws. There is about a half a sentence about what it takes to leave. If you don’t want to be with us, you don’t have to be with us, and nobody has left. We’re very fortunate we’ve been able to develop revenue from various sources. Like Mike says, we are stable and we have longterm contracts that, I think, really show the longterm financial stability of our athletic programs. We have 5,000 student-athletes in the SEC, men and women, and our longterm goal is to provide financial stability so 5,000 student-athletes can compete and have that experience that we all value so much.”

On MU’s legacy in the Big 12...

“What I would hope it would be is the University of Missouri is a very loyal institution. That it’s very committed. That it’s very open. It’s been very transparent in the way that it operates. I hope that it would be remembered as hard-working, dedicated, doing things the right way by prioritizing the academic integrity of what we try to do in a socially responsible way, and competing like heck; just playing hard. I would hope that’s what we would be able to be remembered as far as our membership and our commitment towards that league.”

On MU’s departure from the Big 12...

“We’ve had discussions on that this year and, while there is on-going work to be done, we are confident we will be able to successfully erase any concerns over those issues.”

On MU becoming a target for the SEC...

“It was a unanimous vote [to accept Missouri into the SEC]. My recollection is that very, very early in the football season we began some conversations.”

On the pressure of the decision to switch conferences...

“While I don’t want to diminish the importance of the decision, it is a very important decision for the university, we face a number of those from time to time. Some take on different dimensions depending on the personnel involved. This was institutionally a defining moment for the University of Missouri. We analyze issues very carefully. We listen to the fan base, the alumni base and engaged in careful analysis of the institutions  of the Southeastern Conference and the compatibility and the way in which we matched up in every dimension. That was a lot to be considered. Fortunately, we had a great team, a very supportive board of curators, to examine this issue carefully and bring it to a conclusion. These are decisions that are our responsibility. They are not alien to us. They are very systematic. We do not rush to conclusion. We do not try to short-change either a voice or a dimension of knowledge that we need to make these decisions.”

On MU’s cross-divisional rival in the SEC...

“We have a transition team in place that has been working on scheduling in all of our sports. At an appropriate time we will make an announcement. It is established that Missouri will play in the east.”

On the financial costs of leaving the Big 12...

“It has not been determined what it will cost the University of Missouri in this respect. We understand the bylaws of the conference and the expectations regarding some range of exit fees. Let me simply say that the University of Missouri will bear those responsibilities. They are not the Southeastern Conference’s responsibilities.

On the potential impact on the state...

“There are a number of studies regarding the actual role of athletics in the state. We examined those economic impact studies very carefully. The good thing was, here we are expanding the excitement. We heard from the fan base and we heard the potential of expanding our facilities if the fan base responds. That’s all good for the state of Missouri.

The University of Missouri is a very broad, statewide presence. We are working in the Kansas City area where this was given some special attention. The extent of our involvement there is not going to diminish in any way. In fact, our board of curators asked us to particularly examine the potential down the road of some kind of a basketball tournament in Kansas City, and certainly continuing to explore our presence in football matches with key rivals in Kanas City. There is nothing going away there as far as we are concerned. We are looking to mold those partnerships even more firmly, and we’re going to be doing it from a stronger base that we feel there is more fan support. In what we are doing otherwise in the university simply remains unabated. Our contributions to the Kansas City Area Development Council and the life science community in Kansas City is very significant. Statewide, the extension presence that is involved in economic development promoting job growth. All that continues.

Sometimes, when we look at the media, we get the impression that we’re going away. That’s not the case. In fact, we are expanding what we are doing here in the state of Missouri. As an economist, I’m very confident we are going to inject even more resources into the state of Missouri and this is going to be a major positive step forward for the the economy of the state of Missouri as well.”

 On the changing landscape of college athletics...

“The real interesting thing for us is we were really content at twelve. We were contacted by Texas A&M and then, later, by Missouri. It was the nature and quality of the institutions, athletically, academically and culturally, that attracted us to consider going beyond twelve. It wasn’t a part of a plan to sit down and decide to be more than twelve. We didn’t want to be more than twelve. But when Texas A&M contacted us and then Missouri, our people thought that these are two such fine institutions that we wanted to take advantage of adding these proud institutions to our league. It was never part of a plan to get bigger. It was part of a plan to ensure that over the next twenty to thirty years, that with the nature of institutions like Missouri, we will remain the preeminent conference in the country.”

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