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August 25, 2011

A&M fires warning shot with letter about leaving B12

If Texas A&M moves on to the Southeastern Conference as A&M sources continue to tell Orangebloods.com, don't look for Texas to play the Aggies any time soon, according to sources.

Sources tell Orangebloods.com the Longhorns would seek to replace Texas A&M with Notre Dame for a Thanksgiving night game.

UT officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick have a close working relationship that was fortified during last summer's realignment. That's when the Big Ten put the hard sell on the Irish, and Dodds told Swarbrick to remain independent in football and move the rest of Notre Dame's sports to the Big 12 (from the Big East).

Less than a month ago, Dodds told a gathering of the Young Men's Business League of Austin that Texas wants the Big 12 to stay together if A&M moves on to the SEC. But Dodds said if there is not sentiment for the nine remaining schools to keep the Big 12 alive, Dodds said Texas might want to partner with a school like Notre Dame and start their own conference.

Texas A&M took a significant step toward leaving the Big 12 and applying for membership to the Southeastern Conference, according to a letter from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin to Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

"While this letter is not a notice of Texas A&M's withdrawal from the Big 12 Conference, we are exploring our options," Loftin wrote in a letter dated Wednesday (August 24).

"There has been a great deal of speculation and comment in the media about Texas A&M leaving the (Big 12) Conference, including discussions of other institutions joining the Conference.

"If Texas A&M withdraws from the Conference, we want to do so in a way that complies with the Bylaws and is supportive of your efforts to seek a new member of the Conference.

"We would appreciate you conferring with the other member institutions and outlining for us the process to be followed by Texas A&M should it withdraw from the Conference," Loftin's letter said.

Loftin on Thursday also gathered up Texas A&M's coaches and told them that as long as the SEC presidents vote to accept the Aggies' application, the Aggies will be moving on to the SEC.

Texas A&M's new chancellor John Sharp has said it is in the best interest of the Aggies to go to the Southeastern Conference.

In a public statement, Loftin said:

"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.

"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.

"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."

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a statement, "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."

Texas A&M sources continue to tell Orangebloods.com that a super majority of SEC presidents (nine of 12) will approve Texas A&M's application for membership to the SEC.

Other members of the Big 12 question if there are enough votes in the SEC to admit Texas A&M. Officials at Georgia and Vanderbilt have indicated some concern about expansion in the SEC.

Others have speculated that Florida and LSU might also be reluctant to change the makeup of the conference, which has won the last five national titles.
Stay tuned.


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