A newspaper reported Friday that Arkansas and Florida State have accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference. FSU and SEC officials denied the report, but Arkansas's athletic director said the school would announce a decision soon.
The Alabama Journal quoted an unnamed source, identified as a "highly ranked SEC official," who said the two universities would join the SEC, bringing the number of SEC teams to 12.But Florida State Athletic Director Bob Goin quickly denied the report.
"If the story is we have accepted an invitation to join the SEC, that's false. Nothing could be further from the truth," Goin said. "We have not been extended an offer, nor have we accepted one."
Donald Zacharis, president of Mississippi State University and president of the SEC, told Tupelo, Miss., television station WTVA that Florida State has not been issued a formal invitation.
"The bottom line is the SEC is continuing its discussions with several institutions and no official announcement is even close to being ready," Zacharis said.
Graham Edwards, a spokesman for the SEC in Birmingham, said he had no comment on the newspaper report. "I'm not confirming or denying that," he said. "I don't know anythying about that."
A statement released by SEC Commissioner Roy Kramer on Thursday said the conference is continuing its discussions of expansion. "The conference office will make no further comment unless an official invitation for membership is extended," the statement said.
Both Florida State, an independent school, and Arkansas, a member of the Southwest Conference for 76 years, have been the subject of speculation since the SEC announced earlier this year it would consider an expansion.
Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles said Friday a decision for his school would be announced by Aug. 15. "Our discussions with the Southeastern Conference have ended and it's up to us to decide what we want to do," Broyles said.
Kramer met with FSU officials earlier this week to make the deal final, according to the newspaper story.
"I don't think Arkansas will announce it this week, but I look for it to be announced by next week," the newspaper quoted the source as saying. "It's up to Florida State President Bernard Sliger whenever he wishes to announce."
Goin said Florida State planned no such announcement and had no timetable for making a decision on whether to remain independent or join an conference.
"As I've said from the beginning, we're taking a look at what the benefits are of being an independent or joining a conference. We have not made that decision," he said.