In a move that could signal trouble for the Big East’s proposed football expansion, Missouri reportedly is a step closer to leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

A Missouri official told The New York Times on Monday that a decision to apply for SEC membership was “inevitable and imminent” and anticipated “no problem” in being accepted.

Realignment dominos have rarely fallen in any expected order or fashion. However, a move by Missouri has been the most-anticipated move out there, one that could cause the Big 12 to look for a replacement with Big East schools Louisville and West Virginia, although BYU is also in the mix.

Monday night, Big East presidents unanimously voted to increase the league’s exit fee from $5 million to $10 million, contingent on Navy and Air Force joining the league, CBSSports.com reported.

It is questionable whether such a measure could prevent schools from moving to the Big 12. Translation: The Big East’s football future may rest in the Big 12’s hands.

If Louisville and West Virginia both were to move to the Big 12, it could stop the Big East’s proposed expansion in its tracks since Big East targets Boise State and Navy, among others, are closely monitoring these events, trying to gauge the future for Big East football.

Best-case scenario for the Big East is if the Big 12 takes BYU as its 10th member as a replacement for Missouri and decides to stop there, not going to 12 schools. If West Virginia and Louisville stay in the Big East, that would go a long way toward ensuring the survival of the conference’s football league.

Notre Dame also will be watching closely because it could decide it’s time to move to either the ACC or the Big Ten.

All these possibilities have been out there for weeks. However, Missouri’s potential move has been viewed all along as a trigger. A much-feared one in Big East circles.