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Conference Realignment: OU's Boren Has Power, UT's Powers More Limited

During a meeting of the Oklahoma Board of Regents on Monday afternoon, President David Boren was unanimously authorized to make decisions regarding the school's conference affiliation. A similar meeting took place hours later at Texas, but the Board of Regents in Austin declined to give President Bill Powers the same amount of freedom, retaining the final right to authorize a change in conferences during a meeting that lasted much longer than the planned 15 minutes, possibly because of the need to alter the Longhorn Network in a move west, though Powers can "negotiate and execute" the documents necessary to switch conferences.

OU's Boren was outspoken about his school's desire to head to the Pac-12, saying it was the principle focus past the Big 12, a remarkably candid comment for this stage of the process considering that the Pac-12 still needs to vote to expand and commissioner Larry Scott has been adamant that the league does not plan on expanding.

According to Boren, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma plan on staying together, but the OU president said that it was too early to tell if Oklahoma and Texas would be able to do so as well, a stark change from last year's realignment near-miss, when athletic director Joe Castiglione maintained throughout the process that keeping Texas and Oklahoma together was a top priority.

With the desire of Oklahoma to depart the Big 12 now fully on the table, all that remains is approval by the Pac-12. For the Longhorns, changing conferences won't be as simple with details for how the Longhorn Network would have to change to accommodate the new conference yet to be determined.

A San Jose Mercury News report on Monday refuted a Sunday report that Texas was close to reaching a deal with Larry Scott that would allow conference programming on the Longhorn Network, but would not force it to become a shared regional network. Instead, the Mercury News report maintains that LHN would have to become a regional entity and the Longhorns would not be allowed any more than a 1/16th division of revenue.

If true, it once again appears that the Texas administration will have to make serious concessions to gain admittance into the Pac-16, which appears to be the most viable -- and perhaps only -- conference affiliation for the Longhorns with the death of the Big 12 now certain.