The Oklahoma and Texas boards of regents on Monday gave officials at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas authorization to do what they feel is in the best long-term interest of those two institutions regarding their affiliation with the Big 12 or any other athletic conference.
That puts the decision on conference realignment squarely in the hands of President William Powers Jr at Texas and Oklahoma President David Boren, who was the one who stoked the fire two weeks ago when he said the Sooners were deeply concerned about the future stability of the Big 12 Conference and would not be a wallflower in the realignment discussion and debate.
Boren said after the meeting of the OU Board of Regents in Tulsa that he has had what he described as "informal" discussions with officials of the Pac-12 Conference. He called those conversations "warm" and "constructive."
Boren has said that Oklahoma's interest in the Pac-12 goes beyond the athletic environment. The OU president said he likes the idea of aligning his school with academic elites such as California and Stanford.
Sources close to the discussions that have been going on between Oklahoma and Pac-12 representatives say that the Pac-12 would be more interested in an expansion effort that would bring in four schools from the Big 12: the two Oklahoma schools plus Texas and, most likely, Texas Tech.
On Sunday, a source told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that negotiations between Big 12 schools and Pac-12 officials are still far apart in terms of coming up with an expansion plan that the Pac-12 leadership would be comfortable recommending for approval to the league presidents. If Texas is involved, details certainly would need to be worked out regarding the Longhorn Network.
Oklahoma sources believe that the Pac-12 would accept the Sooners and their in-state archrivals Oklahoma State even without Texas. There is believed to be support among the Pac-12's league presidents for both the Sooners and Cowboys, but to what extent is not clear. Nine of the 12 Pac-12 presidents would need to approve any expansion decision.
Oklahoma State's Board of Regents have called a meeting for Wednesday, with conference realignment on the agenda.
In addition to the decision on OU's future athletic conference affiliation, the Oklahoma Board of Regents also approved three-year contract extensions for athletic director Joe Castiglione and head football coach Bob Stoopps.