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Texas A&M To Join SEC

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Texas A&M To Join SEC

Post  Carolina Kat on Sat Aug 13, 2011 5:07 pm

Updated: August 13, 2011, 1:00 PM ET

Texas A&M intent on bolting for SEC

ESPN.com news services

Texas A&M intends to move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference, where they hope to begin play in 2012, school officials have said.

After 15 years in the Big 12, Texas A&M has been considering the switch for the second time in a year.

A high-ranking source within Texas A&M confirmed to ESPN's Doug Gottlieb on Saturday morning the Aggies were poised to join the SEC. The San Antonio Express-News reported the timeframe of their tentative plans to begin competition.

Several possible roadblocks remain, however.

All but one of the SEC's school presidents will meet Sunday to discuss A&M's admission to the league, The New York Times has reported, citing a high-ranking conference official with first-hand knowledge of the talks.

And the Big 12's athletic directors have scheduled a 4 p.m. ET conference call with conference commissioner Dan Beebe to discuss the situation, multiple conference sources told ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

The SEC official said there was still a 30-to-40 percent chance the Aggies would not get enough votes for an invitation to the league, The Times reported. And the issue of a 14th team that would need to also be added in addition to A&M remained, the newspaper reported.

"We realize if we do this, we have to have the 14th," the SEC official said. "No name has been thrown out. This thing is much slower out of the chute than the media and blogs have made it."

The official told The Times that Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin called SEC commissioner Mike Slive three weeks ago and said the Aggies regretted not leaving the Big 12 for the SEC last summer. Two weeks ago, Slive and SEC lawyers met with A&M officials, when the league requested that the school work out the possible legal ramifications surrounding its contract with the Big 12, the report said.

"They have a contract now," the SEC official said, according to The Times. "We're very sensitive about being part of breaking a contract. What we asked them to do was to go settle their issues and not have us be on the table as the agent of causing them to leave."

The SEC will now pursue Florida State, Clemson and Missouri, a source told ESPN's Gottlieb, though Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said the school was not in talks with any conferences about a possible move.

"No, no, no," Alden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Saturday, before reaffirming the school's commitment to the Big 12, in whatever form that might be.

Florida State university president Eric Barron also has said the Seminoles haven't had any talks about his school leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference for the SEC. Still, he didn't say it would never happen.

"I don't think there is anything to talk about right now," Barron said Friday. "I don't speculate when there's no conversation."

The Texas A&M board of regents will convene for a special meeting Monday that includes an agenda item about conference alignment.

The item, part of the executive session agenda, is called: "Authorization for the President to Take All Actions Relating to Texas A&M University's Athletic Conference Alignment, The Texas A&M University System."

The Texas legislature has also called a meeting. On Tuesday, the Texas House Committee on Higher Education is set to discuss realignment, a meeting to which Big 12, SEC and Texas A&M officials have been invited .

"There are millions of dollars at stake," Texas Rep. Dan Branch said Friday. "And this could affect students at other schools like Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor."

The Big 12 believes it could withstand the loss of A&M with Texas and Oklahoma remaining as anchor schools. If A&M were to leave, the Big 12 could consider Houston as a replacement to the TV market.

One possible reason for Texas A&M's renewed interest in leaving the Big 12 could be because the school isn't happy about The Longhorn Network -- created through a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN.

The Big 12 says A&M's issues with the Longhorn Network are being addressed. And it is focused on the significance of maintaining regional rivalries and geographic relevance.

But it was political pressure and legislature that played a key role in the Big 12 staying together last summer, when parts nearly broke off to join the Pac-12.

The Big 12 looked to be in trouble last summer when Nebraska and Colorado left the conference and several other schools were courted by the Pac-10. Texas decided to stay in the Big 12 which made it much easier for Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State to remain in the league as well.

Information from ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press was used in this report.

Carolina Kat
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