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August 15, 2011
A&M hearing postponed, but process rolls on
A Texas House committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday to discuss Texas A&M's possible move to the SEC was postponed because the SEC presidents put out a statement Sunday saying the league is happy with its current 12-team membership and took no action on Texas A&M.
But the process for the Aggies to join the SEC continued on Monday as the nine-member Texas A&M System Board of Regents met in College Station and voted to give A&M president R. Bowen Loftin the authority to handle any and all matters relating to "conference alignment."
Here's a recap of R. Bowen Loftin's comments fo the media after the board of regents vote giving him the authority to decide if Texas A&M will stay in the Big 12 or leave:
--Went out of his way to say that he contacted Mike Slive of the SEC
--It's not what's wrong with the Big 12 but what's right for Texas A&M.
--A&M is seeking greater visibility for the school and its student-athletes.
--Loftin feels no specific time pressure to arrive at a conclusion.
--The SEC and other conferences are more stable (than the Big 12), and there has never been a bid from the SEC.
--You don't make these decisions lightly or quickly.
--He will take his time and is very concerned about the members of the Big 12.
--And if A&M leaves the Big 12, Loftin still wants to play Texas on Thanksgiving Day.
A&M sources close to the situation tell Orangebloods.com the Aggies expect to be announced as members of the SEC within the next three weeks.
Those same sources said the SEC has indicated that the league will expand by four schools to 16.
"It's not just an expansion planned to add one or two schools. The plan is to expand to 16 schools," one source locked into the A&M situation said Monday afternoon.
"Those plans have not changed."
Sources tell Orangebloods.com NCAA president Mark Emmert is expressing concern to SEC leaders about any plans to expand for fear of the instability it could cause in conferences across the country.
Bob Williams, NCAA vice president of communications, told Orangebloods.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 DI presidential meetings."
Meanwhile, an economic study conducted by Ray Perryman, an economist based in Waco, Texas, said if Texas A&M leaves the Big 12, but the rest of the conference remains intact, the decrease in business activity in the state would include losses of $217.2 million in output (gross product) each year and 3,050 jobs.
The Perryman Group estimates that State fiscal revenue would be reduced by $28.2 million per year if Texas A&M leaves the Big 12, but the Conference survives. Losses to local governments would be $13.1 million per year.
If Texas A&M was to leave the Big 12, sources in the Big 12 say the league would only expand by one school (to replace the Aggies).
Notre Dame could be a top target to replace the Aggies based on comments Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds made last week.
But if the Irish said no, Brigham Young would get strong consideration, sources said, along with TCU and Houston.
Texas Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, has postponed a hearing looking into Texas A&M's possible move to the SEC because the SEC presidents on Sunday said they were happy with their current 12-team alignment and took no action on Texas A&M.
Here is Branch's statement ...
"The August 16, 2010 hearing of the House Higher Education Committee on collegiate athletics has been postponed.
"Yesterday, Dr. Bernie Machen, on behalf of the Southeastern Conference Presidents and Chancellors, stated that the member institutions have, at least for the time being, reaffirmed their satisfaction with the ?present 12 institutional alignment.‟
"While events may continue to evolve in the coming weeks, at this time, there is no immediate need to evaluate the merits of an athletic conference reconfiguration involving Texas A&M University and, potentially, other Texas public universities. If the current situation changes, our Committee is prepared to convene.
"The hearing was scheduled to allow a broader public evaluation of the merits of pending athletic conference reconfigurations, to provide more transparency to our citizens and taxpayers, and to encourage an outcome that best serves the state of Texas. The Committee's intent was to be responsive to a pending reconfiguration involving major public institutions of higher learning with wide-ranging implications; not to micro-manage individual university decisions or to presuppose a certain outcome.
"As many of us have worked long hours over the last several days, I appreciate the spirit of cooperation and many efforts of our university leaders and regents affected by the recent events, especially those by the leaders of Texas A&M University. Texas A&M is one of Texas‟s finest public universities. It is a Tier One national research university of the highest order, steeped in historic and innovative traditions, both in the classroom and on the athletic field. Whatever her bright future holds, we all want an outcome that is in her best interest, the best interest of our other outstanding universities, and the best interest of all Texans."
When it appears that Texas A&M to the SEC is heating back up again - and A&M sources say it will heat back up again - look for Branch to reschedule this hearing.
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