An enthusiastic full house greeted Missouri athletic director Mike Alden on Tuesday at Tiger Club, a meeting of Missouri faithful at the Westport Flea Market. It started with a check presentation _ $25,000 from the club to the Tiger Scholarship Fund that Alden said was unexpected.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
He spent some 45 minutes speaking and answering questions. Some highlights:
*Requests for proposals for future Southeastern Conference basketball tournaments have been sent to Kansas City and St. Louis among other cities. It’s up to the cities to put in bids.
The first years available are 2017 and 2018. The Big 12 is set in Kansas City through 2016, and the league has a deal with Sprint Center for the right of first refusal in future years.
Essentially, the Big 12 has first dibs on Sprint Center for the traditional tournament dates beyond 2016, and that makes it unlikely that Kansas City will submit a bid for the SEC event, said Kansas City Sports Commission president Kathy Nelson.
"The Big 12 has until March, 2015 to decide it if wants to extend, and that would make it difficult," to put in an SEC bid, Nelson said.
Alden said Missouri continues to look into bringing a football game to Arrowhead, but probably not until at least 2014. The Tigers want to maintain an annual men's basketball presence at Sprint Center.
*As for the football championship game, don’t expect Missouri to suggest a destination other than Atlanta. “You don’t want to mess with that model,” Alden said.
*Missouri’s men’s basketball schedule is expected to be released on Wednesday.
*The athletic administration is working on conference affiliation for the wrestling program that could involve an affiliate membership. The SEC doesn’t sponsor wrestling so the Tigers have to find a new league home. Down the road, Alden envisions a system where wrestling is structured by regions and not conferences.
*Alden’s stance on Border War games with Kansas, suspended by the Jayhawks when the Tigers joined the SEC, hasn’t changed. “I’ll say the same thing I’ve said since Nov. 6,” Alden said. “Our hope is that it will take place. Those are generational decisions. I think when we start making decisions based on this moment in time that we’ve ignored a century of history. Our hope is that we have the opportunity to renew one of the oldest rivalries west of the Mississippi.”
*Upgrades totaling $200 million will improve facilities for football, baseball, softball, golf and tennis. Faurot Field will be expanded to about 81,000 by 2015, but some changes will happen earlier. Next season, the concourse in the North end zone will be expanded, which means the rock M will be moved closer to the field. Missouri needs more fan space there because of an SEC rule that prohibits pass-outs during a game.
*Alden recalled that one year ago, the Tigers were moving forward with plans to remain in the Big 12. But one line uttered by Oklahoma president David Boren changed Mizzou’s course.
“We were getting ready for our first game when the (Boren) quote came out, “ ‘We’re not going to be wallflower,’ ” Alden said.
That weekend, Mizzou opened the season at home against Miami, Ohio, and Alden was surrounded by reporters as he entered his box on the fifth floor. After the Boren sentiment, reporters wanted to know where Missouri stood in the realignment saga.
Later that day, Alden walked up to the sixth floor roof deck and joined interim University of Missouri system president Steve Owens, Chancellor Brady Deaton and MU legal counsel Phil Hoskins for a meeting that can be seen as the beginning of Missouri’s break from the Big 12.
“Look, we were doing all we could do to hold things together,” Alden said. “But we said then that Mizzou had to do what was best for Mizzou and take a look at other opportunities that might exist.”
Two months later, the Tigers were introduced as members of the SEC.