Confirming what had been reported throughout the early morning hours, the SEC announced in a statement Wednesday that they have officially and unanimously approved Texas A&M as the conference’s 13th member.
As had previously been reported, however, the approval comes with a very big proviso.
Here’s the SEC’s statement, in its entirety:
“After receiving unanimous written assurance from the Big 12 on September 2 that the Southeastern Conference was free to accept Texas A&M to join as a new member, the presidents and chancellors of the SEC met last night with the intention of accepting the application of Texas A&M to be the newest member of the SEC. We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action. The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure. The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2, 2011.”
Translation? As soon as Baylor drops its threat of legal action against the SEC and commissioner Mike Slive, A&M will officially split from the Big 12 and join the the SEC as its 13th member.
How soon that will be, however, remains to be seen. As noted by Kristi Dosh, aka @SportsBizMiss, it could be a tough legal row to hoe for Baylor in preventing an A&M move; “Toughest part of tortious interference suit by Baylor would be proving damages. Case is only slam dunk if ESPN drops Big 12 contract.” Dosh later added that she doesn’t think Baylor would have a strong case.
Of course, A&M’s departure from the Big 12 wouldn’t necessarily mean the conference will dissolve, meaning there would be no reason for ESPN to void their contract with the conference. A&M’s departure could, though, prompt Oklahoma — and Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech — to make a move for the Pac-12, which would necessarily mean the end of the Big 12. The legal onus shouldn’t be on A&M as they have no control over the reaction of OU and others to their move.
In the letter referenced in the SEC’s statement, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe wrote to his SEC counterpart that he is confirming “our discussion yesterday during which I informed you that the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors unanimously authorized me to convey to you and their colleagues in the Southeastern Conference that the Big 12 and its members will not take any legal action for any possible claims against the SEC or its members relating to the departure of Texas A&M University from the Big 12 and the admission of Texas A&M into the SEC; provided, however, that such act by the SEC to admit Texas A&M is publicly confirmed by 5:00 p.m. (CDT) on September 8, 2011.”
In the three days that followed, however, Baylor has backed away from their pledge to not pursue legal action, meaning that, until the Baylor “situation” is resolved, it appears that the announcement scheduled for today will be pushed back. How far back is unclear and may not come into focus until later on today at the earliest.
Oh, and one more thing, for those complaining about Baylor threatening legal action: stop it already. The Big 12 has always been every member for itself and its own interests regardless of what’s best for the conference; why should Baylor be any different?