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August 27, 2011

A&M, Big 12 talk Saturday about the future

The Big 12 presidents spoke Saturday on a conference call about what the departure of Texas A&M from the league would look like and what the future of the Big 12 could look like without the Aggies.

Estimates for the Aggies' exit fees, according to Big 12 sources, are between $28 million and $30 million. But it doesn't appear the Aggies will have to pay that much.

If Texas A&M bolts the Big 12 for the SEC as expected, there is a good chance the Big 12 would withhold A&M's TV revenue for the 2011-12 academic year, which would total roughly $18 million to $19 million, sources said.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was on the first part of the conference call with Big 12 presidents and continued to give the impression that the Aggies' would soon be leaving, sources said. Sources say Texas A&M could be applying for membership to the Southeastern Conference as early as this week.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe put out a statement saying, "The Big 12 Conference members have been and will continue to conduct meetings related to the situation with Texas A&M and conference membership.

"There will be public statements as appropriate and necessary if and when action is taken."

The Big 12 presidents on Saturday also discussed what the Big 12 might look like if the Aggies leave. After the Big 12 presidents met with Loftin, they talked without Loftin about the future of their league.

There were scenarios discussed that would include adding three schools to the league instead of just replacing Texas A&M with a 10th school.

NOTRE DAME:A scenario in which the Big 12 would add three schools to get back to being a 12-team league would involve Notre Dame.

If the Big 12 was to add Notre Dame, there is a good chance the Big 12 would have to allow the Irish football program to keep its relationship with NBC, which was renewed just a couple years ago. The Big 12 would also have to share some TV revenue with the Irish and would have to allow the Irish to pursue their own, independent network, sources said. And there appears to be sentiment in the Big 12 to do all that.

ARKANSAS:During last summer's realignment, a third party extended feelers to see if the Big 12 would be interested in adding Arkansas, sources said. Arkansas officials adamantly denied ever expressing any interest in being in the Big 12. But if Arkansas were to express interset in the Big 12, it appears the league would be receptive to an application for membership from the Razorbacks, sources said.

PITTSBURGH:If Arkansas weren't interested in joining the Big 12, it's possible Pittsburgh could enter the picture, but perhaps only if Notre Dame is in the mix, sources said.

BYU: If Notre Dame could be added to the Big 12 as well as either Arkansas or Pittsburgh, BYU would be a popular target to be added to the league as the 12th team. If Notre Dame, Arkansas and/or Pittsburgh could not be added to the Big 12, it appears BYU would be a popular choice to replace Texas A&M, and the league would remain a 10-team conference, sources said.

Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance told 104.3 FM in Lubbock if the Aggies bolt the Big 12 they'd "be replaced by at least one and maybe three excellent teams that'll be a bigger story (than A&M leaving)."

Sources close to the situation continue to say Texas would not have an interest in playing Texas A&M in football if the Aggies were to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC.

But there is speculation among those in the Texas Legislature that a bill could be filed during the 2013 session that, if passed, could force the two schools to keep playing each other if they were in separate conferences.

Meanwhile, multiple sources say if Texas A&M joins the SEC, there may not be a rush by that conference to add a 14th school. Sources say the SEC would seriously consider the possibility of playing the 2012 season with 13 schools.

The SEC needs a super majority of nine schools to approve the addition of a school to the conference, sources said.

Sources said they expect Texas A&M to make a move this week to submit its application for membership to the SEC. Saturday's call between the Big 12 presidents was a step in the direction of A&M clarifying what its exit strategy will be before reaching out to the SEC, sources said.

Stay tuned.



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