SEC votes to accept Texas A&M
A Big 12 school has threatened legal action if Aggies leave
|BIG 12 LETTER TO SEC|
Copy of Sept. 2 letter from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to SEC commissioner Mike Slive, released Wednesday by the SEC:
"This is to confirm our discussion yesterday during which I informed you that the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors unanimously authorized me to convey to you and their colleagues in the Southeastern Conference that the Big 12 and its members will not take any legal action for any possible claims against the SEC or its members relating to the departure of Texas A&M University from the Big 12 and the admission of Texas A&M into the SEC; provided, however, that such act by the SEC to admit Texas A&M is publicly confirmed by 5:00 p.m. (CDT) on September 8, 2011.
"Such admission of Texas A&M will result in the withdrawal of Texas A&M from the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012. We both agreed it is in the best interests of each of our conferences and our member institutions of higher education to waive any and all legal actions by either conference and its members resulting from admission of Texas A&M into the SEC, as long as such admission is confirmed publicly by September 8, 2011.
"If any of your presidents and chancellors have concerns about this commitment of the Big 12 Conference, they may contact me or Brady Deaton, Big 12 Board of Director chairman and chancellor of the University of Missouri, Columbia."
The Southeastern Conference announced Wednesday that it will make Texas A&M the 13th team in the league but said the move is on hold because a Big 12 school has threatened legal action if the Aggies leave.
The SEC said it received "unanimous written assurance" from the Big 12 on Sept. 2 that it was free to accept Texas A&M.
The presidents and chancellors then met late Tuesday "with the intention of accepting the application of Texas A&M to be the newest member of the SEC."
"We were notified [Tuesday] afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action," said Florida president Bernie Machen, chairman of the SEC leaders. "The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure.
"The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2."
It was not immediately known which Big 12 school had raised the legal issues.
In the September letter, released by the SEC, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe told SEC commissioner Mike Slive that the Big 12 and its members would not sue the SEC for accepting A&M by 5 p.m. Thursday.
"We both agreed it is in the best interests of each of our conferences and our member institutions of higher education to waive any and all legal actions by either conference and its members resulting from admission of Texas A&M into the SEC, as long as such admission is confirmed publicly by September 8, 2011," Beebe wrote.
Texas A&M announced last week that it planned to leave the Big 12 by July 2012 if invited to join another league. The Aggies had been unhappy with the creation of the Longhorn Network at rival Texas and have made it clear they want a higher profile and more revenue.
"We are certainly pleased with the action taken last night by the presidents and chancellors of the Southeastern Conference to unanimously accept Texas A&M as the league's 13th member," university president R. Bowen Loftin said Wednesday. "However, this acceptance is conditional, and we are disappointed in the threats made by one of the Big 12 member institutions to coerce Texas A&M into staying in Big 12 Conference. These actions go against the commitment that was made by this university and the Big 12 on Sept. 2. We are working diligently to resolve any and all issues as outlined by the SEC."
The Aggies' intentions sparked more talk of conference realignment stretching across the country.
The Big 12 has already lost Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12). Oklahoma president David Boren said last week that multiple conferences have expressed interest in the Sooners and he expects a decision within a few weeks. Oklahoma State billionaire booster Boone Pickens also said he doesn't think the Big 12 will survive much longer and predicted the Cowboys will eventually join the Pac-12.
It might not be over for the SEC, either, if the league that has won the last five BCS championships in football decides to add a 14th team or even expand to a 16-team superconference. Texas A&M's move would help give the SEC a presence in the major Texas TV markets.