College Sports

Baylor Only Thing Standing In Way Of A&M-SEC Union

By TERRANCE HARRIS, SportsRadio 610
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(credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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Texas A&M has openly flirted with the Southeastern Conference for the past couple of months now.

The SEC returned the love Tuesday when all 12 presidents and chancellors unanimously voted to allow the Aggies into the conference. But there is one holdout and that is the threat that Baylor could possibly file a lawsuit against the SEC for tampering.

The other remaining eight schools in the Big 12 apparently have all agreed not to sue. Baylor, however, appears to be holding out while it figures out what is going to happen with the Big 12.  That could delay Texas A&M planned announcement today that it’s officially joining the power conference on July 1, 2012. The announcement may come either later Wednesday or possibly Thursday.

The SEC presidents are hesitant to make any official moves until it knows the threat of a lawsuit by Baylor is over. Texas A&M officially notified the Big 12 last week of its intention to leave the conference effective June 30, 2012.

“After receiving unanimous written assurance from the Big 12 on September 2 that the Southeastern Conference was free to accept Texas A&M to join as a new member, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met last night with the intention of accepting the application of Texas A&M to be the newest member of the SEC,” chairman of the SEC presidents and chancellors Bernie Machen said in a releases statement Wednesday morning. “We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action.

“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, 2011.”

Baylor is obviously holding out in concern over its conference affiliation. The Big12 could fall apart with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State considering the possibility of jumping to the Pac-12 now that Texas A&M has left. Missouri is believed to be a candidate to join the SEC. That would leave schools like Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State in search of another conference.

It also could mean this isn’t the last of the lawsuits. All nine remaining Big 12 institutions could suffer major losses as result of Texas A&M abandoning the conference. The league could be in jeopardy of having its $1 billion dollar deal with Fox Sports voided if it does remain together and add another member to replace Texas A&M.

That would certainly qualify as a financial hardship for the remaining institutions which could then trigger lawsuits against Texas A&M and the SEC.

Texas A&M sought assurances there would be no legal litigation when it formally requested to leave the Big 12 on Sept. 2.

“This is the first time to my knowledge that a conference has been requested to waive any legal claims toward another conference for any damages suffered with a membership change,” the Big 12 wrote in a released statement. “The Big 12 Conference was asked by Texas A&M University and the Southeastern Conference to waive any such claim to help facilitate Texas A&M’s departure from the Conference without any consideration to the Big 12.  Although they were not obligated to do so, the Big 12 Board of Directors decided to accommodate that request as it relates to The Big 12 Conference, Inc., which is reflected in the September 2 letter sent to SEC commissioner Mike Slive.  However, the waiver did not and could not bind the individual member institutions’ governing boards to waive institutional rights.

“If the departure of Texas A&M results in significant changes in the Big 12 membership, several institutions may be severely affected after counting on revenue streams from contracts that were approved unanimously by our members, including Texas A&M.  In some cases, members reasonably relied on such approval to embark on obligations that will cost millions of dollars.”

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

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