Today, the University of Missouri (Mizzou) officially announced they were joining the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The big move was made official at a press conference on the Mizzou campus in Columbia, Missouri, which happened to be open to the public, and literally right across the street from my office. I drove in to check it out, and found that the student center where the press conference was held, with statements made by the Missouri chancellor, Mizzou athletic director, SEC commissioner, as well as the president of the University of Florida (an SEC member).
A couple of more notable things from the conference related to finance/economics.
1. Chancellor Deaton noted that the move to the SEC would have an economic impact on the entire state of Missouri. Those familiar with my arguments, have noted that Mizzou athletics will wonderful, entertaining, and bringing great psychic benefits to the state, probably does not provide any economic impact or benefits to the entire state. I’ve even argued before that they don’t even have an impact on Kansas City (thought the KC Sports Commission said they did) as they only play a few games in the city a year, and that this is only 2-3 days a year and does not bring in that many overnight visitors. Missouri plays even fewer games in St. Louis (the other big city in Missouri), so I’m still not sure where all this economic impact is going to come from just by changing conferences. That is my honest opinion on that matter.
2. The SEC said that Missouri was chosen partly because of their financial strength. Though, if one looks at operating budgets, Missouri does not compete very well with schools like Florida and Alabama who pull in more revenue in football alone, that Missouri does for all combined revenues. Of course, there are other schools equivalent to Missouri in terms of the operating budget and revenues in the SEC, so it is not like they will be a weak link in regards to finance.
3. The SEC has a pretty tough football schedule, but Mizzou should probably do decently in football and pretty well in basketball considering the competition as well as revenue spent on recruiting and coaching for teams. It will be interesting to see how the team does.
4. It is being reported that Missouri will be in the SEC East, which means they will have to travel farther than if they were in the SEC West. This could mean a lot more travel time for teams, student-athletes and fans for all involved. I wonder how many of the notoriously well traveling SEC fans will make the long trek to Columbia, MO, especially from Florida, Georgia and South Carolina if Mizzou is in the SEC East. Additionally, how many Mizzou fans will really make the long trips east? Might this impact attendance at events (most likely football only)? Quite possibly, another thing to pay attention to in future years.
Of course in all of this, Mizzou has left the Big 12. Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas called Missouri’s move “disappointing” and “a mistake”. Missouri’s long time rival Kansas was a little more taunting, they posted on the KUNews Twitter feed: “Missouri forfeits a century-old rivalry. We win“.
I just chuckle at that, as the SEC does look to be a bigger revenue pool, with larger media contracts and equal revenue sharing, all of which will most likely boost the revenues that Missouri will receive each year. Though there is the looming question of whether Missouri will have to pay an exit fee, and if so, how much it will be.