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August 13, 2011
A&M's move to the SEC could be complicated
There may be some bumps in the road for Texas A&M and the Aggies' ability to make a clean break for the Southeastern Conference.
Dan Branch, R-Dallas, the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee told Orangebloods.com on Saturday that it would be "highly inappropriate" for the Texas A&M Board of Regents to take any action during a Monday meeting that would finalize a move to the SEC.
Branch called a hearing of his committee for Tuesday and invited Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin and Texas A&M regents chair Richard Box to testify about why this would be in the best interest of A&M and the state of Texas.
"It's my understanding the regents meeting on Monday is to begin negotiations, not complete them - assuming the SEC extends an offer," Branch told Orangebloods.com. "It would be important to the Legislature that the regents not complete anything before lawmakers get to ask some questions.
"It's my understanding from talking to A&M officials that it may take a week or two weeks to finalize any conference realignment anyway."
On Friday, Texas A&M moved up a meeting of the regents from Aug. 22 to Monday - one day before Branch's scheduled hearing on Texas A&M's current situation. The move looked like a game of beat-the-clock with lawmakers.
An administrator at a Big 12 school told Orangebloods.com that the Atlantic Coast Conference has a meeting planned for Monday with its 12 schools to reaffirm their commitment to each other.
This comes after Doug Gottlieb of ESPN reported that Missouri, Clemson and Florida State could be joining Texas A&M in the SEC.
Missouri athletic director Mike Alden denied any contact between the Tigers and the SEC to several media outlets, including PowerMizzou.com. Behind the scenes, Missouri is also telling the rest of the Big 12 that any contact with the SEC hasn't happened.
A Big 12 official told me that Oklahoma continues to tell the rest of the Big 12 that it is not interested in joining the SEC. The SEC definitely reached out to OU during its courtship of Texas A&M, the source said. The source said Bob Stoops has indicated to OU officials that the best path to win championships is in the Big 12, not the SEC, in part because the Big 12 no longer has a championship game.
The New York Times reported Saturday that an SEC official said there is a 30 to 40 percent chance the SEC presidents will reject Texas A&M as the 13th member of the conference.
Two sources told Orangebloods.com the SEC presidents are expected to meet at 10 am Sunday in Atlanta.
The New York Times report said SEC presidents are concerned about the perception of being a conference raider.
A source inside the Big 12 said there could be legal action against the SEC if it appears there is tortious interference on the part of the SEC in helping to break Texas A&M's TV contracts in the Big 12.
A Big 12 source said if the ACC reaffirms its commitment to each other, and the SEC doesn't have a 14th school to invite, the SEC presidents could balk at bringing in Texas A&M.
The Big 12 athletic directors - minus Texas A&M - are scheduled to be on a conference call at 3 p.m. CT Saturday.
They will discuss Texas A&M's situation and what a 9-team Big 12 would look like and what the league should do next - if anything - in terms of possibly adding one or more schools if A&M moves on.
Before last summer's realignment, the short list of schools to add to the Big 12 if a school ever left included BYU and Air Force, according to high-ranking sources in the league.
Houston has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but two Big 12 officials told Orangebloods.com on Saturday that Houston is not high on the list of replacements.
The Houston Chronicle reported Friday that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe told an unnamed A&M official that Texas was the key to the Big 12 and that the league would survive without Texas A&M.
Big 12 associate commissioner Bob Burda told Orangebloods.com Saturday, "That's patently untrue misinformation from an unnamed source."
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