Posted: 9:31 am Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

SEC presidents vote unanimously to invite Texas A&M 

By Jason Lieser

Texas A&M has long been expected to become the 13th member of the SEC, and now the Aggies have an official invitation to join the conference. Once the move is finalized, Texas A&M will be part of the SEC effective June 30, 2012 and play all sports in the conference beginning with the 2012-13 academic year (next football season).

The SEC presidents and chancellors met Tuesday and voted unanimously to accept the school. In his statement, Florida president Dr. Bernie Machen said his conference received a letter from the Big 12 on Sept. 2 saying that it would not challenge the move in court as long as the SEC completed it by Sept. 8.

The only remaining issue in that regard is that Baylor University intends to sue if Texas A&M jumps from the Big 12.

“We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action,” Machen said. “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.”

That letter was signed by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. Among other things, it said, “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.”

With the addition of Texas A&M, the SEC now will have 13 schools. It likely will stay at that number for at least one year, creating a problem of uneven scheduling and divisions. There has been speculation that the conference would seek to add another member as soon as possible to push the league to 14 schools.

Texas A&M’s move will shrink the Big 12 down to nine teams and might prompt its collapse. Four of its current schools — Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech — are rumored to be considering a jump to the Pac-12. Missouri also was mentioned as a possible SEC target.

The inclusion of the Aggies marks the SEC’s first expansion since picking up Arkansas and South Carolina in 1991. The other 10 colleges have been in the conference for nearly 80 years.

The prominent question on the minds of Florida fans is whether the Gators will play Texas A&M next season. That is unknown, obviously. The SEC implemented a set scheduling rotation in 2002 (five divisional games, one permanent opponent from the opposite division and two rotating opponents from the opposite division) that expires this year.