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Texas A&M Officially Files Application To Depart Big 12

By TERRANCE HARRIS, SportsRadio 610
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All of the speculation is now over.

Texas A&M seeking affiliation with a conference that is not the Big 12. The University officially notified the Big 12 on Wednesday that it will see submit an application to join another athletic conference effective June 30, 2012.

Now there is little secret what conference that will be. The Texas A&M Aggies will soon seek entry into the SEC as the 13th member of college football’s most powerful conference. The long and historical link to the Texas Longhorns is officially cut for now.

“After much thought and consideration, and pursuant to the action of the (Texas A&M University System) Board of Regents authorizing me to take action related to Texas A&M University’s athletic conference alignment, I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference,” President R. Bowen Loftin wrote to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe in the letter dated August 31, 2011.

“We appreciate the Big 12′s willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through a mutually agreeable settlement,” Loftin added. “We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues, including mutual waivers by Texas A&M and the conference on behalf of all the remaining members.”

 

“We appreciate the Big 12′s willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through a mutually agreeable settlement,” Loftin added. “We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues, including mutual waivers by Texas A&M and the conference on behalf of all the remaining members.”

 

This move should begin a ripple effect in college athletics that could surpass the upheaval of the summer of 2010 when Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12 for the Big Ten and Pac-10, respectively.

 

Now the SEC will likely have to add at least one more school to even out its two divisions at seven schools each with Florida State of the ACC seeming like the favorite candidate at this point. The Big 12 also now has to make a decision about whether it can exist as a 9-member conference or add one to get back 10 members or return to its more viable 12-member form.

 

There also is expected to be legal action taken behind the expected Texas A&M to SEC move. The Big 12 could have its $1 billion contract with Fox Sports voided because of the departure of the Aggies, which would have an adverse affect on the other nine remaining members.

 

It does appear the Big 12 will at least have a case on the grounds of tampering because of the ongoing conversations Texas A&M has seemed to have with the SEC since the summer of 2010 when the school had a chance to jump.

 

Two weeks ago, the SEC seemed to make a preemptive strike when its board met and announced it was set as a 12-member conference and was not looking to expand, but left the door for the possibility down the line. That allowed Texas A&M time to gather information and then separate from the Big 12 if it chooses. After A&M was free of its Big 12 conference affiliation then the SEC would be willing to discuss membership in hopes of avoiding a lawsuit.

 

But most judges should be able to see through this move because it’s unlikely Texas A&M would end its lucrative membership with the Big 12 without a promise of a soft landing in another BCS conference.

 

The Aggies have made no qualms that they have grown tired of being in the shadows of the Texas Longhorns and the unfair advantage created by the ESPN’s Longhorn Network this summer was the final straw. The move to the SEC should give A&M the distinction from Texas it desires, but it will certainly come with risks in the toughest football conference in the country.

 

“As I have indicated throughout this process, 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 said in his letter. “This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically. Texas A&M is an extraordinary institution, and we look forward to what the future may hold for Aggies worldwide.”

 

Contact Terrance Harris at terrancefharris@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @Terranceharris

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