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Tag:conference realignment
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 12:07 pm
 

Texas A&M wants lower exit fee from Big 12

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Although Texas A&M doesn't know for sure that it's going to leave the Big 12 for the SEC -- wink, wink -- the school is going through all the necessary steps to make it happen. First it let the Big 12 know that it's going to explore its options, and now it sounds like the school is negotiating it's exit fee from the Big 12.

According to Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News, the Big 12 is looking for something in the neighborhood of $28 million from Texas A&M if it wants to leave. Which is an incredibly expensive divorce. Understandably, Texas A&M isn't looking to pay quite that much.

In another tweet from the Austin American-Statesman's Kirk Bohls, the Aggies are negotiating to pay something between $10 and $15 million. Roughly half of what the conference wants.

To put it in perspective, when Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten last year, the Cornhuskers paid just over $9 million. Colorado paid about $7 million. So, as you can see, it's pretty understandable that Texas A&M isn't looking to fork over more than three times what Nebraska paid and four times what Colorado paid to leave.

How much will the Aggies end up paying when they -- I mean if! -- they leave the Big 12? Who knows? Much like any divorce, the lawyers will be the true winners.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 2:27 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 10:12 am
 

Dan Beebe responds to Texas A&M statement

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the latest chapter in the ongoing flirtations between Texas A&M and the SEC, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe (pictured at right) has responded to Texas A&M's Thursday announcement that the Aggies were exploring a switch in conferences.

First, the statement in full, from the conference offices:

The letter received today from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin will be addressed by the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors. 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.

Beebe should be careful here, as the only high-level unaffiliated football programs out there are Notre Dame and BYU (no offense, Army or Navy), and saying the conference is "poised to move aggressively" implies that there's a willing candidate already in Beebe's mind. Yes, that almost certainly could mean SMU, who's practically begging for a BCS invite, but if the Big 12 adds Houston (as has allegedly been mentioned by the conference as a possibility before), the Conference USA brass might have the grounds to suggest that the Big 12 was admitting to interfering with Conference USA business, and that could mean the threat of legal action.

That said, it could also mean something much less litigious, like adding BYU and/or Notre Dame in football only, and either gently phasing in the other sports (as both schools have full pre-existing conference affiliations outside of football) or leaving it a football-only arrangement entirely. 

Not only that, there are probably plenty of expansion candidates off the metaphorical radar with which the Big 12 has had some sort of contact, and maybe Beebe has the sense that they're privately amenable to a conference change. Again, we're talking about off the radar, so it would be reckless to speculate (see: flat-out guess) on possible schools, but Beebe would be derelict in his duty as a conference commissioner if he didn't have a contingency plan for any type of expansion -- especially one based on how willing the other schools would be to move to the Big 12.

We'll say this, though: Texas A&M is still not even an applicant (much less a member or invitee) of the SEC yet. That's likely to change, but it hasn't yet. So if Dan Beebe can wrangle four of his conference members away from a potential Pac-16 in 2010, then somehow brink Texas A&M back from the bring of "SECession," he's got to be the biggest miracle worker among conference commissioners. Alas for Beebe, miracles are miracles for a reason, and this one's probably not going to happen.


Posted on: August 25, 2011 2:56 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Texas A&M lets Big 12 know it's leaving

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Texas A&M released a statement on Thursday saying that it had informed the Big 12 that it intends to explore the possibilities of a new 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,” said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin in the statement.

“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.” 

"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 Director of Athletics Bill Byrne added. "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.”

Now, this does not mean that the Aggies have left the Big 12 just yet, just that they're officially letting the Big 12 know that they're looking to.

It's the "I think we should see other people" of the college football world.

As we're all well aware, Texas A&M hopes to join the SEC, and the next logical step will be for the school to apply to the conference as its thirteenth member. While the SEC has made no formal invite to Texas A&M and has gone out of its way to make that point that the SEC didn't court the Aggies, you have to think that Texas A&M has a pretty good idea of what the SEC's response will be for the school to let the Big 12 know if its plans.

When the SEC will make a public decision on whether or not it will accept Texas A&M as it's thirteenth school, we can't be sure. It could be next week or a month from now, all we really know is that today's move by Texas A&M made it a lot more likely that the announcement will come at some point.



Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 2:06 pm
 

Big Ten has "closed down conference expansion"

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Big Ten announced on Friday that despite all the whispers about 16-team superconferences, anyone expecting the Big Ten to make a seismic shift in the conference alignment landscape is probably going to be left waiting. As the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) noted in a statement, the conference is "not actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape."

That significant shift might be just the SEC swelling to 14-16 teams, but considering the usually staid nature of the conference when it comes to realignment, one or two defections down south might not be enough to get the ball rolling for Jim Delany and his member schools. 

Here is the statement issued Friday, in full:

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) met recently to discuss reform issues and expansion. The following statement is issued by the Big Ten office on behalf of the COP/C.

In response to a number of recent media inquiries received by several Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors regarding the likelihood of further expansion by the Big Ten, the COP/C would like to reiterate that it will not be actively engaged in conference expansion at this time, or at any time in the foreseeable future, barring a significant shift in the current intercollegiate athletic landscape.

The COP/C is aware that speculation about the possibility of expansion by the Big Ten Conference continues despite a statement from COP/C Chair and Indiana University President Michael McRobbie on December 5, 2010, indicating that the COP/C believed the expansion process had reached its natural conclusion, that it was pleased with the addition of Nebraska, and that it looked forward to working with its new colleagues in the years ahead.

The conference has spent the past 14 months actively engaged in incorporating Nebraska, academically and athletically, into the fabric of the conference. "We're about as comfortable as we can be with where we are,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “We've said that we will continue to monitor the landscape, but we have closed down active expansion and have no plans to seek new members.”

This is a pretty unequivocal statement, provided the conference alignment landscape stays roughly the same. Whether the Texas A&M-to-SEC move (provided it actually happens) sets off a chain of more defections and additions -- or remains more isolated like the Nebraska and Colorado moves of 2010 -- will likely determine whether the Big Ten stays set at 12 or whether this statement will be rendered quaint by the new state of college athletics.

The message from Delany and his presidents/chancellors is clear, though -- the other conferences might force expansion, but the Big Ten won't be the first to go down that road.

Posted on: August 19, 2011 12:43 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 12:44 pm
 

Big 12 may want to make things 'legally binding'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

After the Big 12 narrowly escaped its demise last summer, the remaining ten schools in the conference came to a gentlemen's agreement about staying together and keeping the Big 12 alive. Now that Texas A&M seems intent on leaving for the SEC, we can all see how binding that verbal agreemement between the schools last summer was.

Which is why Texas Tech president Guy Bailey feels that the conference needs to come up with something a bit more solid. As in signing your name on a sheet of paper and agreeing to a contract solid.

"It's incumbent on us to be aggressive in assuring the future of the conference," Bailey told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "If not, we're going to be in the same boat again next year or the year after.

"We do have to do get something to secure our future... and that probably means putting your name on the dotted line. Doing that in a legally binding way is pretty important." 

In other words, this way when a school decides it wants to leave the Big 12 in the future, it's going to cost that school quite a bit of money to do so.

As for where the conference is now, Bailey said that the Big 12 needs to plan on Texas A&M leaving, and that means finding a school to replace the Aggies. The list of candidates are the same ones you've heard before: BYU, Houston, Notre Dame -- that noise you hear is Jim Delany laughing and saying "good luck with that" -- Air Force and TCU.

I'd say the most likely candidate to eventually join the Big 12 would be Houston. There's no doubt that Houston would like to move up from Conference USA to a BCS conference, and the state of Texas would love to add another one of its schools to a BCS conference as well. The concern with Houston is the school's athletic facilities, though the possiblity of both the basketball team and football team playing in the professional venues of the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans has been proposed as a solution.
Posted on: August 15, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Texas A&M Regents authorize realignment action

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Monday was an eventful day for developments on Texas A&M's conference affiliation. The Aggies appear to be at least one step closer to joining the SEC, but Texas A&M's president didn't set a timetable on change, nor even confirmed that Texas A&M would be leaving the Big 12.

-- The Texas State House Committee on Higher Education canceled a hearing scheduled for Tuesday that would have involved officials from Texas A&M, the SEC, and the Big 12.

Committee chair Dan Branch had said that making any conference moves without meeting with his committee first would be "inappropriate," but according to Kirk Bohls, Branch postponed the meeting because Texas A&M had yet to "complete anything." Branch added that the hearing may re-convene at a later date.

-- As expected, the Texas A&M Board of Regents authorized Loftin to "take all actions relating to Texas A&M University's athletic conference alignment."

On Sunday, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met and announced that the conference was happy with its 12-team alignment for right now, and "took no action" in regards to unhappy Big 12 member Texas A&M. The underlying message from the SEC was clear: the ball is in your court, Texas A&M, not ours.

To that end, the Texas A&M Board of Regents met on Monday, and as expected whent the agenda was released, has authorized Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to leave the Big 12 or do whatever else he sees fit with the school's athletic conference alignment. Loftin is now expected to make an entreaty to the SEC.

Loftin told reporters after the meeting that the SEC has yet to invite Texas A&M, however, and when asked if there was a timetable, replied "Not for me." He also said that staying in the Big 12 still remained an option, and that any move to the SEC would be a "lengthy" process.

-- According to CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd, NCAA president Mark Emmert contacted various conference CEO's to discuss the realignment situation.

Here's the statement issued by the office of Mark Emmert to CBSSports.com:

"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."

The NCAA did not elaborate on the discussions had between Emmert and the CEOs, nor did it specify which ones were contacted (though it's probably not hard to guess). The New York Times had a report about that call, however, in which Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said, "I think people have asked him to make some phone calls. He’s doing exactly what he should be doing.”

The New York Times' report also cites a high-ranking official who alleges that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe and SEC commissioner Mike Slive had a heated phone conversation on expansion talks last week, but Beebe told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News that "we have been very direct but have not had any conversations with Mike Slive I would describe as heated, ever." This appears to be more of a quibble over semantics than an outright rejection of the report.

Posted on: August 14, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:44 pm
 

SEC finishes meeting, doesn't invite Texas A&M

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The SEC has just finished its scheduled meeting of its presidents and chancellors, and unfortunately for secession-minded Texas A&M fans, the conference is staying put at 12 teams -- for now. Here's the full statement released by presidents and chancellors chair (and Florida president) Bernie Machen:

“The SEC Presidents and Chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment. We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion. No action was taken with respect to any institution including Texas A&M.”

What Machen didn't say is that Texas A&M won't be invited to the SEC; if the chancellors and presidents didn't want the Aggies to come, the statement would likely have been worded with a bit more finality. As it stands, the conference is clearly leaving the door open to expansion.

It's also worth pointing out that the Texas A&M Board of Regents has yet to authorize school president R. Bowen Loftin (who did not attend the SEC's meeting) to negotiate its conference standing; that action is set to take place Monday. Texas A&M is still a member of the Big 12, and it might not even be legal for the SEC to invite the Aggies at this point.  In other words, the "future conditions" Machen talks about may be as simple as Texas A&M applying to the SEC, or at the very least setting an end date to its affiliation to the Big 12. Either way, the metaphorical ball likely wasn't in the SEC's court to begin with.

Moreover, Texas state Rep. Dan Branch has called for a hearing before his Committee on Higher Education on Tuesday, with officials from the Big 12, SEC and Texas A&M invited. The Texas state legislation has been active in conference affiliation matters in the past; it pushed for Baylor's inclusion alongside Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in the "Pac-16" plan that eventually fell through, for example. Branch has said it would be "inappropriate" for Texas A&M to go to the SEC before the Tuesday meeting, and Loftin said that he would be present at that meeting, and that the Regents.

Arkansas chancellor Dave Gearheart attended the meeting, and said that while no action was taken on Texas A&M, the school was certainly one of the topics of discussion. "It was really an open discussion, not just about A&M but about the future of the conference and the future of other conferences," Gearhart said. "We did talk about Texas A&M. It's a great university, a great place. But I think the decision was to make no decision at this particular time."

This issue isn't put to bed by any stretch. An unnamed SEC official told the New York Times' Pete Thamel that the meeting was to let Texas A&M "get its house in order." But for now, Texas A&M is stuck with the Big 12. Saturday, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe issued a statement that the conference had "unanimous desires" for Texas A&M to remain a member, and that the conference "took actions [...] to adequately address those concerns" that Texas A&M had raised.

Texas A&M's main problem revolved around the upcoming Longhorn Network, the Texas-affiliated sports channel set to launch this fall. In particular, Texas A&M was among many Big 12 members who objected to the channel's plans to air an in-conference football game and high school games involving high-profile recruits. Both of those options have since been taken off the table, with the NCAA issuing a moratorium on all collegiate networks airing high school games.

Still, the mere suggestion that these ideas were planned by the network may have been enough to sour Texas A&M on the Big 12 for good, regardless of what the Longhorn Network actually does, and it probably didn't help matters when Beebe told the conference that it can survive without Texas A&M and speculated on candidates to replace the Aggies, namely Houston and Notre Dame

Members of the Texas A&M coaching staff and its players declined any comment that indicated any interest in the potential move. Head coach Mike Sherman said "I don't pay a lot of attention to [the SEC issue]" after an afternoon practice on Sunday. Senior safety Trent Hunter agreed, saying "it's not anything that's going to affect us playing SMU in that first week."

Loftin issued a statement through Texas A&M on Sunday on the issue.

"As we have seen over the past several days, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation regarding these discussions and any associated timelines. The chairman of our board has indicated that the regents will proceed with tomorrow's agenda item, which authorizes the president of Texas A&M to take all actions related to athletic conference alignment. I will also accept Chairman Branch's invitation to participate in his committee's hearing on Tuesday. These are extremely complex issues, and it is imperative that we proceed methodically and in the best interests of Texas A&M." 


RapidReporter Brent Zwenerman and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Posted on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2011 12:22 pm
 

SEC to discuss A&M on Sunday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you've spent any time on Twitter or message boards lately, then you've probably heard the news that the SEC has expanded to a 64-team league at this point, as schools from all over the country have been rumored to be joining the league. Realistically, though, it appears that there is only one team that is serious about joining the league, and that would be Texas A&M.

Of course, just because a team is interested in the SEC that doesn't always mean the SEC's interest is mutual, but according to a report in the New York Times, the SEC will meet in a secret location on Sunday to discuss the possibility of bringing Texas A&M into the conference.

Pete Thamel reports that a high-ranking SEC official has told him that the league presidents will meet at a secret location on Sunday to discuss the move, and that there's a "30 to 40 percent chance" that the SEC presidents will decide against A&M joining the fold. The reason for that is because the SEC has no plans to expand to just 13 teams, and it would need another school to complete any expansion.

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

In other words, that report you heard on Saturday morning about Texas A&M, Clemson, Florida State and Missouri all joining the SEC to form the first super conference is a bit premature. Missouri AD Mike Alden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that there was "nothing" to the report and that Missouri isn't talking to anybody.

The Big 12 athletic directors are scheduled to have a conference call with commissioner Dan Beebe on Saturday afternoon with every AD except Texas A&M's Bill Byrne expected to be on the call. However, before you read too far into that, remember that Byrne is currently in Europe at the moment.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com