And there it is.
After a month’s worth of speculation, rumor and innuendo, Texas A&M has officially notified the Big 12 of its intent to leave the conference, presumably to join the SEC. A&M issued a statement announcing the decision.
“After much thought and consideration, and pursuant to the action of the (Texas A&M University System) Board of Regents authorizing me to take action related to Texas A&M University’s athletic conference alignment, I have determined it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference,” President R. Bowen Loftin wrote to Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe in a letter dated August 31, 2011.
“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.”
There is no word yet on what the financial numbers of a “mutually agreeable settlement” would entail.
The release notes that, should their application to an unnamed conference (winkwinknudgenudge) be accepted, Texas A&M will end its membership in the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012.
With A&M officially notifying its current conference, the onus will now fall on its future conference. A&M will begin to take the steps necessary to apply for membership in the SEC, with the school needing a “yea” vote from nine of the 12 current members — their presidents/chancellors specifically — in order to become the 13th member of the league. The early word on the street is that the SEC will not officially take up the A&M issue until early next week.
As we’ve stated at various points throughout the process, it’s highly, highly doubtful A&M would’ve taken this monumental step unless they had at least some back-channel assurances from the SEC that they would have the votes from the current membership.
While the A&M question has all but been answered, it also raises a couple of additional questions. One, will the SEC stop at 13 members for the moment, or will they push forward sooner rather than later to make it an even 14 — or 16? Secondly, will the Big 12 look to simply fill A&M’s void with one school, or will they push to add three to get back to even with the conference’s name?
The answers to those questioned are still to be determined.