The cat is out of the bag and the Aggies are out of the Big12. Well – not completely out, but out of the closet about their intentions. Texas A&M has released a statement indicating that the school has contacted the Big12 about its plans to apply for admission to another athletic conference.
Rumors have been rampant in the sports world, and the New York Times erroneously reported on Monday that the letter had already been sent. As in many such cases, the denial by the school has been followed up by the action, only delayed by a couple of days.
Nine of the SEC schools would have to approve the application for the Aggies to join that conference, although the votes a likely assured or A&M would not make such a bold move. The Aggies are working the move like a home sale: withdrawal from the Big12 is contingent on their successful admission to another conference.
The letter from A&M President R. Bowen Loftin to Big12 Commissioner Dan Beebe is dated August 31, 2011, and states in part “I have determined that it is in the best interest of Texas A&M to make application to join another athletic conference.” The university’s membership in the Big12 would end on June 30, 2012 according to the statement.
A&M will have to pay most of its conference income from last year and would forfeit income from the 2011-2012 season as a penalty for breaking the agreement. The two totals amount to sn estimated $28-million. It is likely that figure will be negotiated down and only require A&M to forfeit this year’s conference distribution.
An expansion committee has already been formed by the Big12 for the purpose of seeking out new members as replacements for the Aggies and possibly last year’s departures – Nebraska and Colorado.