First domino? A&M tells Beebe they will ‘explore conference options’
When officials from the SEC met nearly two weeks ago to discuss conference expansion, a decision was made -- publicly, at least -- that the conference would not pursue Texas A&M as a possible 13th member, and for the time being, would stay as a 12-member conference.
Of course, that was nothing more than a PR move to save commissioner Mike Slive from the wrong end of a possible tortious interference lawsuit, not to mention a 14th member (or a 15th and 16th) may not have been decided upon.
The point was the SEC couldn’t “formally” reach out to A&M -- not as long as they were part of the Big 12 anyway; the Aggies had to go to the SEC first and get their legal details straightened out before a move could occur.
Consider those details straightened.
Multiple media outlets have reported, to which A&M has subsequently confirmed, that the Aggies have given Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe a formal notice that they wish to “explore conference options”.
That means A&M has, in all likelihood and certainty, taken the first step to try and exit the conference, and could ask the Big 12 to outline the exit procedures “if” they were to leave.
How the Big 12 would respond is yet to be seen.
Here’s a portion of the release from A&M’s website from the perspective of A&M president R. Bowen Loftin:
“As I have indicated previously, we are working very deliberately to act in the best long-term interests of both Texas A&M and the State of Texas. This truly is a 100-year decision,” said Loftin. “While we understand the desire of all parties to quickly reach a resolution, these are extremely complex issues that we are addressing methodically.
“Ultimately, we are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs,” Loftin added. “As a public university, Texas A&M owes it to the state’s taxpayers to maximize our assets and generate additional revenues both now and well into the future.”
From the letter courtesy of Sports Illustrated:
“Dear Commissioner Beebe:
As you know, the Texas A&M Board of Regents has authorized me to take action relating to Texas A&M University’s (“Texas A&M”) conference alignment. While this letter is not a notice of Texas A&M’s withdrawal from the Big 12 Conference (the “Conference”), we are exploring our options. There has been a great deal of speculation and comment in the media about Texas A&M leaving the Conference, including discussions of other institutions joining the Conference.
If Texas A&M withdraws from the Conference, we want to do so in a way that complies with the Bylaws and is supportive of your efforts to seek a new member of the Conference. We would appreciate your conferring with the other member institutions and outlining for us the process to be followed by Texas A&M should it withdraw from the Conference.
We look forward to hearing from you.”
It should be stated and understood that if A&M decides to leave the Big 12 -- this is not a withdrawal letter -- they would exit with over 100 percent certainty that a formal invitation from the SEC would follow. In other words, an informal invite from the SEC has likely already been extended.
When such an announcement would come is still uncertain, but for what it’s worth, the Longhorn Network officially launches tomorrow.
We’re not sayin’. We’re just sayin’.