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A&M To Big 12: Exploring Options

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A&M To Big 12: Exploring Options

Post  Carolina Kat on Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:16 am

Updated: August 25, 2011, 6:38 PM ET

A&M to Big 12: Exploring our options

By David Ubben
ESPN.com

Texas A&M has officially notified the Big 12 that it will explore its options pertaining to conference affiliation, the university announced on Thursday.

Aggies take next step in process

Texas A&M says if it chooses to withdraw from the Big 12, it will do so in accordance with Big 12 bylaws, and would be supportive of the Big 12's efforts to secure a new member in the conference.

"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," Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a release. "While we understand the desire of all parties to quickly reach a resolution, these are extremely complex issues that we are addressing methodically."

On Aug. 14, the Southeastern Conference announced that its presidents had met and decided to take no action regarding Texas A&M or any other university regarding future expansion. The decision is believed to have been a statement to allow the SEC and Texas A&M to establish a clear timeline between the university's pursuit of the conference.

"I support president Loftin and our governing board's desire to explore all options regarding the future of Texas A&M University," Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said. "We all want what is best for the Aggies. I've met with all of our head coaches to keep them informed and we all remain excited and optimistic about the future of Texas A&M Athletics."

The SEC openly pursuing Texas A&M as a member of the Big 12 could open the conference up to litigation under tortious interference, or interference with a written contract.

ESPN college football reporter Joe Schad shares what he knows about the statement Texas A&M sent out that said they will actively seek other conference affiliations.

"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 said. "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."

Coincidentally, SMU athletic director Steve Orsini made public his belief Thursday that the Mustangs are ready to join an automatic-qualifier BCS conference and has made his case to certain Big 12 officials.

The Big 12's board of directors is scheduled to meet on Saturday.

"The letter received today from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin will be addressed by the Big 12 conference board of directors," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a statment. "It remains our strong desire for Texas A&M to continue as a member of the Big 12 and we are working toward that end. However, if it is decided otherwise, the conference is poised to move aggressively with options."

David Ubben covers Big 12 football for ESPN.com. Information from ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett was used in this report.

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