It wasn't too long ago that Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton spoke of "working every day to hold the Big 12 together." Now he's been tasked with helping decide whether the Tigers are the latest program to leave a troubled conference fighting for its future.

University curators voted unanimously Tuesday night to consider leaving the Big 12 instead of committing to the league for the long term. The governing board's members agreed unanimously after a four-hour closed meeting at the system's St. Louis campus to give Deaton authority to look elsewhere, specifically "any and all actions necessary to fully explore options on conference affiliation....which best serve the (school's) interest."

Just one day earlier, the conference announced that presidents and chancellors of the remaining nine members -- including Deaton -- had agreed to equal revenue sharing and to seek approval from each university to hand over the most lucrative television rights to the conference for six years. Now it looks as if the Big 12 might be losing two members for the second straight year.

One year ago, Nebraska defected from the Big 12 to the Big Ten, and Colorado left for what is now the Pac-12. If Missouri were to leave the Big 12, one college administrator characterized it as "a shocker. I thought they were leveraging it, and leveraging it well, but my sense was that all along they wanted to stay in the Big 12."

Speculation has centered on a possible Missouri move to the Southeastern Conference, which recently agreed to accept Texas A&M from the Big 12 starting next year.