30 August 2011
Late Monday night, Pete Thamel of the New York Times reported that the Texas A&M Aggies notified the Big XII Conference board chairman that they plan to formally withdraw from the conference as early as Tuesday.
This latest step in the Aggies’ effort to join the Southeastern Conference appears to have two stumbling blocks. The first is Texas A&M’s exit fee from the Big 12, which it has not negotiated. That amount is expected to be close to $15 million. The other is the approval of the S.E.C. presidents. Nine of the 12 would have to vote in favor for Texas A&M to become a member of the conference. It is unlikely that Texas A&M would be this far along in the process without adequate S.E.C. presidential support.
With A&M leaving, the Big XII conference would be left with nine teams, looking to add others in order to survive. It was reported earlier this week that the Big XII conference may be eyeing up four teams, BYU, Arkansas, Notre Dame, and Pitt. While Pitt's official statement on the situation was basically saying that they didn't see any reason to comment on rumors, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick came right out and said it:
“Our priority — and our clear priority — is maintaining our football independence and continuing to build our relationship with the Big East with our other sports.”
If there was ever a remote chance for Pitt to join a conference less stable than the BIG EAST, that went right out the window with Notre Dame saying "thanks, but no thanks". And now we wait...
UPDATE: Apparently Texas A&M did not send it's letter of withdrawl Monday night, as reported by the New York Times. The Aggies now claim that they were the ones receiving a letter from the Big XII:
The university said Monday it had received a letter from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe outlining the withdrawal procedure should the Aggies decide to leave the league.
Cook said on Monday that the letter "outlines the withdrawal procedures according to the financial provisions of the Big 12 bylaws and mutual waivers of legal claims." He wouldn't provide any other details of the letter or comment on what A&M's next step might be.
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