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Tag:R. Bowen Loftin
Posted on: August 31, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: August 31, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Texas A&M officially seeking to leave Big 12

Posted by Jerry Hinnen and Tom Fornelli

The opening paragraph of Wednesday's official press release from Texas A&M will tell you pretty much everything you need to know:
Texas A&M University today officially notified the Big 12 Conference that the institution will submit an application to join another athletic conference. Should this application be accepted, Texas A&M will end its membership in the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012.
The odds that the Aggies don't already know the outcome of their "application" to "another athletic conference": 47 billion to one. Texas A&M has officially left the Big 12, and the only thing truly remaining between the Aggies and the SEC is the Aggies' introductory press conference. The deal, as they say, is done.

A&M president R. Bowen Loftin:
"I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference ... We appreciate the Big 12's willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through a mutually agreeable settlement. 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."
The main sticking point on that "mutually agreeable settlement" is expected to be the exit fee paid by the Aggies to the Big 12, a fee CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd reported Wednesday should fall somewhere between the $9.2 million paid by Nebraska to leave in 2010 and the $28 million owed according to the Big 12 bylaws.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe released a statement following Texas A&M's press release.

“Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin has notified the Conference of his decision to withdraw the university from the Big 12 effective June 30, 2012,” Beebe said. “The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12. As previously stated, the Conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options.”

Whatever tiny, insignificant shreds of doubt might have existed about A&M's move to the SEC exist no more; in 2012, Texas A&M will be the 13th member of the Southeastern Conference.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 12:59 am
Edited on: August 30, 2011 3:48 am
 

Texas A&M to withdraw from Big XII on Tuesday?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

On Monday afternoon, Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement that "it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time." If the multiple media reports from Monday evening are to be believed, Mr. Loftin was certainly not exaggerating.

Late Monday night, the New York Times published a report that Texas A&M had indeed filed its formal withdrawal from the conference, most likely to officially take place on Tuesday:

Texas A&M’s departure from the Big 12 drew closer to reality on Monday when the university president, R. Bowen Loftin, sent a letter to the Big 12 board chairman, Missouri President Brady Deaton, notifying the league it will formally withdraw — very likely on Tuesday — according to two college officials with direct knowledge of the decision.

Sources at the school have since confirmed that report to Orangebloods.com, and the Associated Press is reporting this move now as well. This would likely be the latest and most decisive step in Texas A&M's ongoing campaign to join the SEC for the 2012 football season; only a formal application to the SEC is all that remains.

Earlier on Monday, the Big 12 sent a letter to Texas A&M spelling out the terms necessary for the Aggies' departure from the conference, including the "mutual waivers of legal claims" that would essentially clear a legal path for withdrawal from the Big 12. That letter fulfilled a request from Texas A&M on Monday morning asking for all the necessary terms for withdrawal.

If that all sounds like extra-dry legalese, it sort of is; in short, all this means is that there are legal steps to be followed for Texas A&M to leave the Big 12 as soon as possible without any added repercussions for the school past the Big 12 conference by-laws -- and no repercussions for the SEC whatsoever, who could otherwise be open for litigation if the Big 12 thought the SEC was "recruiting" schools while they were current members of the Big 12.

More on Texas A&M

Undermining that idea, however, is the fact that the SEC has stayed quiet throughout these proceedings, only releasing a statement a couple weeks ago that it was happy at 12 teams and had no plans to expand unless the conference landscape changed significantly. Evidently, Texas A&M's formal withdrawal is enough to qualify; there's virtually zero chance this process would have gotten as far as it has without the SEC's (private) approval.

This departure would be the third that the Big 12 would suffer in the last two years; Nebraska left for the Big Ten effective this season, and Colorado has also joined the Pac-12 on the same timeline. Without these three schools, the "Big 12" would have just nine schools committed to the conference for the 2012 football season and beyond at this point.

The Aggies' reasons for seeking greener pastures are varied and nebulous, but the near-universal underlying theme to the reasons is A&M's relationship with Texas. Texas has caused a great deal of consternation in College Station recently with not only the advent of the ESPN-affiliated Longhorn Network, but the concessions granted to the channel thereafter. Before the NCAA intervened with a ban on collegiate networks showing high school athletics, the Longhorn Network was poised to air HS games involving key recruits. The network also planned to air a conference football game, a plan to which Texas A&M took special offense, even after the Big 12 put the kibosh on that idea as well. 

Conference commissioner Dan Beebe has already indicated that Texas A&M's departure would not be a deathblow to the conference, however. Beebe told his constituents in a letter two weeks ago that the Big 12 would survive the loss of A&M, and the names of schools like Houston and SMU have been bandied about as possible local replacements for the Aggies -- though the ratio of schools mentioned as Big Ten expansion candidates to actual expansion schools (roughly 20:1) should be something of a damper on Houston and SMU talk.

Furthermore, the commissioner said in a later letter that the conference was "poised to move aggressively" to rebuild its ranks, and that type of language could indicate some mutual interest from an independent football program -- namely BYU, since Notre Dame has already shot down any talk of the Big 12. Otherwise, if the Big 12 publicly states it's "poised to move aggressively" at colleges that are still active conference members elsewhere, it opens itself up to the type of litigation the SEC had specifically avoided above. 

As usual, the Aggie football program itself has been somewhat taciturn in its response to the potential move, though that's not a sign of reluctance. As head coach Mike Sherman pointed out, it's a move that isn't even going to affect the program's most important class.

"We have a bunch of seniors on this team that will never play in that conference," Sherman said in a Monday conference call, ostensibly referring to the SEC. "They, at this point, could care less. They're concerned with winning this season."

Senior safety Trent Hunter agreed with that sentiment in an earlier interview, saying the realignment talk is "not anything that's going to affect us playing SMU in that first week."

While it'd be easy to dismiss Sherman and Hunter as just using typical deflection techniques that are endemic in just about every athlete or coach interview, it's a fact that the move affects nothing about the coming season, and this season is all anybody for A&M -- coaches, assistants, seniors, on down to the true freshmen -- ought to be focusing on, because it's all that every other opponent of the Aggies is going to be focusing on. To start looking ahead to future years in Week 1 is to lose focus on the task at hand from the word "go," and that is a recipe for unmitigated disaster. Kudos to the A&M program for not falling into that trap thus far.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 7:37 pm
 

Big 12 spells out "withdrawal procedures" for A&M

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

How close is the divorce between Texas A&M and the Big 12 to being finalized? Close enough that we're already two steps closer than we were this morning, and (as a great man once said) the day ain't over yet.

Earlier Monday we found out the two sides are already set to begin their negotiations over the Aggies' exit fee. Now A&M has announced that their soon-to-be former conference has sent them a letter spelling out the "withdrawal prodcedures" for their exit.

Chief among those procedures are the "mutual waivers of legal claims," the agreement of which has long been thought to have been the "speed bump" on A&M's initial fast-track departure to their next conference destination--one that might be, say, speaking purely from a hypothetical standpoint, the SEC. With the Big 12 already having taken a stance on what "waivers" it would agree to, whatever negotiations (if any) on that front can begin sooner rather than later--as well the "financial provisions" of the move, as an A&M spokeman put it.

The official departure date appears to be advancing quickly enough that even A&M president R. Bowen Loftin -- who has previously stressed that the move was a "100-year decision" that would be handled "methodically" -- released a statement that sounds as if he expects the changeover to be wrapped up quickly (emphasis added):
“I certainly appreciate the discussion among the Big 12 presidents/chancellors and the expression of their desire for Texas A&M to remain in the conference. We all agree that Texas A&M is an extremely valuable institution; thus, it is incumbent upon me, as the president of the university, to ensure that we are in a position to enhance our national visibility and future financial opportunity.

While this is a complex and long-term decision, it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time."
Maybe the divorce isn't final just yet. But if Loftin and Mike Slive are spotted at an Ikea this week picking out a coffee table they can both agree on, don't be surprised.

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 17, 2011 11:15 am
 

Deadline for Texas A&M could be coming from Big12

Posted by Bryan Fischer

If Texas A&M is making to make a move to the SEC, they might have to do so sooner rather than later.

On Monday, the university's regents authorized president R. Bowen Loftin to explore realignment and he cautioned that the school would explore all options and there would be no timetable for any move. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has not been a happy camper about the whole situation and told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that an ultimatlum could be coming for the Aggies to make up their mind about staying or going.

“We can’t operate with an institution waiting to decide if it wants to remain in the conference. There has to be a very short time for an institution to commit,” Beebe said.

Beebe also told the Morning News that any school leaving the conference could face additional penalties on top of the current rules regarding withdrawal penalties. Following the departure of Nebraska and Colorado during last summer's realignment craze, Big 12 schools made a 10-year pledge to stay committed to the conference but according to the commissioner, it isn't binding enough to keep a team from leaving.

Specifically one team.

“What we do, if anything, will be in the best interest of Texas A&M and the state of Texas,” Loftin said. “We’re also very concerned about the members of the Big 12. We don’t want the Big 12 to go away. We have no intention of doing anything that might precipitate that.”

The commissioner could approach the Big 12's board of directors to set a date and force the school into making a decision but has not done so yet. If his current strategy of begging the Aggies not to go doesn't work, it's possible we could see the realignment timetable moved up however.

“Ultimately, our strong main desire is to keep A&M and address whatever needs to be done to keep them as happy, fulfilled members of the conference,” Beebe said.
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 10, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Report: Beebe taking Texas A&M rumors 'seriously'

Posted by Chip Patterson

The man who has worked so furiously to hold the Big 12 together says he's taking reports of Texas A&M to the SEC "very seriously." Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe spoke to the American-Statesman on Wednesday night about the issue. He said he has not been in contact with any Texas A&M administration members, Beebe has been preoccupied with Mark Emmert's presidential retreat in Indianapolis.

"I've been doing that and dealing with this firestorm at the same time," Beebe said. "I'll put it this way, I'm taking it very seriously. I've been talking to a number of people. Obviously, there are a significant number of Aggie supporters who are interested in going in that direction."

One reason Aggie supporters are reportedly so adamant about the move is in response to the conference's handling of Texas and the ESPN-supported Longhorn Network. Texas president William Powers was also at the NCAA summit, and reportedly also discussed the issue with Beebe.  What many dismissed as internet rumors took on new life when Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin released this statement on Wednesday:

President Loftin is committed to doing what is best for Texas A&M not only now, but also in the future. We continue to have wide-ranging conversations regarding all aspects of the university, including both academics and athletics.

The timing and wording of that message made it appear awfully cryptic considering the circumstances. All of the Big 12 athletic directors met a week ago to discuss the Longhorn Network, and they voted unanimously to postpone the broadcasting of high school games for one year. At the time, it seemed as though the weakened conference was once again on the same page.

"We had a tremendous meeting with the athletic directors," Beebe told the American-Statesman. "My view was everybody was comfortable with it."

It seems Texas A&M is either uncomfortable with the current conditions in the Big 12, or just exploring their options. Either way all signs point to these conversations with the SEC appear to be happening. But we can only wait to see if anything comes from them.

For more on this story as it develops, keep it here at the Eye on College Football and follow us on Twitter
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com