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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Texas A&M accuses Big 12 of backtracking

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The Big 12 erupted in infighting Wednesday, with Texas A&M angrily accusing the commissioner of going back on his word and suggesting one of its fellow league schools was deliberately slowing its departure to the Southeastern Conference.

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin pointed to two different statements from Commissioner Dan Beebe sent within the past week.

The first was a letter sent Sept. 2 to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive that said the Big 12 "and its members" had agreed to waive the right for legal action against the SEC over the Aggies' move. Loftin then shared with The Associated Press a copy of a Sept. 6 email sent by Beebe to Slive that said the legal waivers from each school were actually far from being secure.

"You have notified me that the SEC is willing to accept the application of Texas A&M to become a member of the SEC, provided that the Big 12 member institutions individually waive any legal actions against the SEC for its decision," Beebe wrote.

"I recognize that this issue has been raised due to Baylor University's indication that its governing board has not waived the university's rights," Beebe added. "As you know, the attached letter waived the right of the Big 12 Conference Inc. to take legal action against the SEC. Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors, has told me that he informed Texas A&M President Bowen Loftin that such action by the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors was not binding on the individual institutions' governing boards.

"If you seek waivers by the individual institutions, you must receive them from those institutions directly. I regret any confusion on this issue."

The email was sent late Tuesday even as SEC presidents and chancellors agreed to accept Texas A&M if the league has guarantees it won't be sued over the latest move in conference realignment. That announcement came early Wednesday and an SEC spokesman had no additional comment.

Loftin, however, was clearly angry about Beebe's statement.

"I felt that was really a violation of trust right there," Loftin told the AP in an interview. "We took this letter very seriously. We asked for such a statement. They gave it to us freely. It says here unanimous vote was taken and yet when we look at Beebe's letter last night it says: 'No we didn't really mean that,' and I find that to be rather difficult to digest."

Texas A&M officials don't understand the last-minute switch and don't understand why Beebe changed his tune, Loftin said.

"We are being held hostage right now," Loftin said of being forced to stay in the Big 12. "Essentially, we're being told that you must stay here against your will and we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans for example and makes us free people."

The Big 12 accused Texas A&M of making an extraordinary request that will put some members at risk of losing millions of dollars in revenue, presumably from the 13-year, $1 billion television deal reached with Fox Sports in April.

"This is the first time to my knowledge that a conference has been requested to waive any legal claims toward another conference for any damages suffered with a membership change," Beebe said. "The Big 12 Conference was asked by Texas A&M University and the Southeastern Conference to waive any such claim to help facilitate Texas A&M's departure from the conference without any consideration to the Big 12. ... If the departure of Texas A&M results in significant changes in the Big 12 membership, several institutions may be severely affected after counting on revenue streams from contracts that were approved unanimously by our members, including Texas A&M.

"In some cases, members reasonably relied on such approval to embark on obligations that will cost millions of dollars."

Loftin said he believes Texas A&M is "replaceable" when it comes to the TV contract.

"We can argue how good we are compared to others, but I think we're replaceable," he said. "It was clearly stated to me by leadership of Fox that they felt like a school could be found and put in our place to satisfy their interests and therefore their contractual agreement would not be changed in any way. So we feel that was a good way to say that we would not be destabilizing the conference by leaving."

Loftin was in meetings most of Wednesday, trying to figure out what A&M will do next. He said he spoke with SEC officials Wednesday and that they are trying to take in the recent developments. Loftin said he was disappointed that A&M wasn't introduced as the SEC's newest member on Wednesday, but he empathizes the predicament the SEC is in.

"We believe we have no real future in the Big 12," Loftin said. "That's clear to us and how that plays out right now I can't really tell you. That's still actively being worked through. We really appreciated the support shown yesterday by the SEC leadership, a unanimous vote to let us in. But they're rightly concerned about themselves getting involved in extensive litigation that might distract them from their purpose as a conference and I can understand that."

The Big 12's future has been the subject of intense speculation for more than a year. Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) left in July, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are rumored to be the subjects of courting by the Pac-12 with an eye toward building a superconference.

Not as clear was where schools like Iowa State, Missouri Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Baylor might wind up if the Big 12 falls apart.

"We are basically sitting in a traffic jam and going nowhere fast," Texas Tech President Guy Bailey said of discussions with Big 12 school officials on Wednesday.

"Recent events have put conference discussions in a holding pattern," Bailey said. "However, we will continue to closely monitor the situation and actively pursue a course in the best interest of Texas Tech University."

At Missouri, Chancellor Brady Deaton -- chairman of the Big 12 board -- said the league "remains a strong conference, highly respected academically and athletically."

A person with knowledge of the Big 12 discussions, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are considered private, said that after the Sept. 2 letter, Baylor was the first to "raise its hand" in numerous conversations with Big 12 and SEC officials, along with other conference members, about retaining its legal rights.

That person said Wednesday that there has been no threat of a lawsuit or other legal action. Texas Tech spokesman Chris Cook also said it was "not our intent" to sue anyone, while Iowa State spokesman John McCarroll said the university had not waived its right to pursue potential litigation regarding A&M.

Without naming the school, Loftin said one Big 12 school had been trying to stop A&M's move from the beginning.

"Clearly for quite some time, one school has been specifically the one trying to both bring pressure on us politically for a while and now raising the threat of legal action," he said. "In fact even calling members of the board of the SEC directly and the commissioner of the SEC directly and speaking to them and leaving voicemails for them."

Loftin said that "nothing really changed" after a conference call among seven of the 10 Big 12 presidents on Wednesday. Much of the call was filled with Baylor explaining its position and the group said discussed if it should start looking at why schools want to leave the Big 12, Loftin said.

For Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, Texas A&M's departure could mean the end of one of college football's greatest games.

"I just hope they don't lose the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry," said McCoy, the former Longhorns star. "My junior and senior years that was it — Thanksgiving night, under the lights, that's football, man. The Lone Star Showdown or whatever. Those are the biggest schools in Texas. You just can't lose that."

Comments

Benjamin Piehler 2 years, 7 months ago

"we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans for example and makes us free people."

Suddenly written contracts are irrelevant in America too...

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

WOW!!!! Can you all imagine the reception every TAM sports team will receive at any Big 12 school in the 2011-12 school year??!!

Everybody from the football teams to the softball teams will be gunning to blast them back to College Station!!

I can just hear every Big 12 coach telling his team, " These are the guys/gals that ruined our league and wrecked our lives. Let's get out there and rip them a new one!!!!!"

It's not going to be pretty.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 7 months ago

Chip Brown Tweet: Sources tell Orangebloods.com if OU would commit to B12, SEC would be released from liability to take A&M. Odds of that happening?

Why would any school make such a poor business decision as to say that it will not sue when no one knows what the future holds? Won't happen. Furthermore, this could be a ruse. One day, its I'll stay if you'all don't sue the SEC. Next year, OU bolts for PAC and Texas says "I'll stay if ya'all don't sue the PAC. Then, the next year, MU says I'll Stay if you don't sue the Big10 when Texas and Notre Dame sign up. And on it goes. Hold your ground. Never give in. A&M had an agreement and they lied through their teeth. Hold them to it. This isn't desperation. This isn't weakness. It is just like everything else. Yeah, its about business and we are going to take care of business. No more warm fuzzies. I'm ticked and I hope all the rest of you are too.

I am sick and tired of the second best football conference being made to be a joke. It is not a joke. And if we have to get a bunch of lawyers to prove it, I'm all in. I signed up for Twitter but when I think about it, it is a joke too. Hardly news. It is one giant rumor mill.

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Stephen Johnson 2 years, 7 months ago

What a bunch of whiners. TA&M has an inferiority complex with UT and are wanting to break the agreement they signed with the Big 12 last year. Now they have the nerve of accusing the Big 12 of doing the same. What has TA&M ever won? NOTHING. By the way, I'm sick of UT as well. They destroyed the SWC and now have essentially done the same with the Big 12. It's like being in a relationship with a wealthy but abusive partner. Why did we ever let these idiot Texas schools into the Big 8?

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manginorh00lz 2 years, 7 months ago

"No, I won't let you break up with me."

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Ben Kliewer 2 years, 7 months ago

  1. We're going to end up in the Big 12 or Big East with KSU and MU. If you think the Big 10 or the PAC are realistically considering Kansas, you're a joker. They're probably considering us in more of a "wouldn't it be hysterical if..." way.
  2. It's funny how aTm is pissed off that the other schools are trying to hold them to a contractual obligation that aTm originally voted in favor of when it was instituted.
  3. We're all idiots for posting on message boards, and I'm an even bigger idiot for reading all of it and posting.
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142466 2 years, 7 months ago

OU and OSU are going to end up in the PAC.

Longhorns PACing, too? Closer call. I think "yes". Probably won't happen until next spring.

TT? This one is obvious by now. Wish it wasn't. TT is securely attached to Texas' boot straps. Probably always were.

What about KU, KSU, & MU? KU goes to the PAC next spring, taking MU with them. KU's basketball program has been king of the west for the last 25 years now. PAC power brokers conclude that they must take KU now, or never. That get us in. The uclans rejoice. KU lobbies for KSU, but quickly bends to the PAC's strong preference for MU.

Thus, the PAC goes all the way to 18. SEC & Big 10 go all the way to 18, too. Likewise, for the new BCS conference on the east coast. It takes a year or two, or three before everybody gets there, though. Think the West was bad? We ain't seen nothin' yet. In the east & southeast there's gonna be a whole lot of shakin goin on.

Prez O, still residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., will have the high honor & distinct privilege of being the first president photographed with champion players from the NCAA final four football tournament. (Notice how I stated that?) Everyone will be all smiles, but several of the players in attendance on that cold D.C. January day will be heard to softly mutter, "let's get the hell back to Dixie".

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 7 months ago

And yet nobody even cares that a year ago today Sweet Lew retired.

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chalky 2 years, 7 months ago

It says they may start looking into why teams want to leave......Whoa now, lets not move to fast.

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FreddyinLA 2 years, 7 months ago

Sorry state of affairs when it requires lawyers to bring some sanity to the situation.

Did UT give TAM a release?

If we end up in the Big East, we will probably lose a couple million /year in TV revenues and add several hundred thousand in travel expenses. Why should we take a hit for A&M moving?

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jayhawkintx73 2 years, 7 months ago

No team should give a waiver to Texas A&M and should not have with Colorado or Nebraska either. Why should we bend over for them? They're leaving because of which institution? The Texas Longhorns, who are betraying the league with their "Longhorn" Network.

OU, OSU, K-State, KU, Missouri, Iowa State should all leave to the highest bidder, PAC 16. Which league will Texas join? I don't think anyone would take them right now, because of the Longhorn Network.

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Janet Scott 2 years, 7 months ago

Would someone give Loftlin a pacifier? The cry baby sounds like a year old twit. Whaaaaaa!!!

I say our Bernie GL travels to College Station, gets a military haircut first thing upon arriving in town, then drops by an Army surplus store there for some new digs, and then hustles over to the TA&M to kick Loftlin in the butt with her new army boots. Bernie might want to "Z" along for moral support, and even have "Z" stop in Norman on the way to Texas to challenge OU's Turncoat Boren to a pistol dual.

BTW, why isn't Manure U. saying anything about any of this? Is the Manure U. administration still trying to get their public statement down on paper, using Crayons as writing instruments?

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 7 months ago

Huh, what? Did someone say tracking?!?!

Signed, Memorial Stadium

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drewdun 2 years, 7 months ago

Dan Beebe is one of the dumbest people in the history of mankind. While I am glad he sent the second email to Slive, it never should have come to that. If the Big 12 survives, Beebe has to be given his walking papers immediately. He sucks - badly.

Texas A&M leadership talking about others going back on their word is priceless. How un-self-aware can one individual or one institution possibly be? Texas A&M can DIAF as far as I am concerned. The most over-inflated sense of self since UT (UT at least has one national championship in their sport of choice within most of our lifetimes; aTm won their championship in the Bronze Age).

Loftin talking about how "replaceable" A&M - unintentional comedy at its finest. "We are eminently replaceable, not to mention utterly forgettable." What a clown.

Good on Baylor for putting up a fight. I hope all of the other remaining schools stick it A&M, and hard. Glad to see at least one school doing what is apparently the impolitic (yet obviously correct) thing.

Finally, some of the dumbest, most insanely idiotic things/thoughts/ideas I have ever - ever - seen in my lifetime have come from people posting on message boards and under internet articles about the infinite realignment scenarios. It has truly been a sight to behold. Further, people posting with some kind of (perverse, I would argue) glee about the supposed demise of the Big 12 are at the apex of the pyramid of stupidity mentioned immediately above. KU's best fit is in the Big 12. Period. We share a common history with our brethren on the Plains, even with the hated Tigers to the east of us. The people (prematurely) dancing on the grave of the Big 12 are dancing on century-old rivalries and conference bonds, all for the "excitement" of this realignment debacle, as if they are eight year old children with ADHD ("ooh shiny things are heating up!" - UGH). I guess they are really excited about Thursday night matchups in Pullman or our traditional Friday night gridiron rivalry with Cincinnati and fascinating road basketball games against Marquette or DePaul.

I just want all of this to be over soon, preferably with the Big 12 staying together, newly unified and committed for the long haul, and adding 1, 3, or 5 quality (whatever that means) teams. That is the best scenario for the University of Kansas and our conference mates.

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Travis Clementsmith 2 years, 7 months ago

"I regret any confusion on this issue." -Dan Beebe

Despite what you might feel about the man and his handling of the Big XII, sometimes the most stinging comments aren't made by people who scream at the top of their lungs, but rather softly and simply.

You know he had to love typing that reply!

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Shawn Baker 2 years, 7 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 7 months ago

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaa! You got what you wanted, now shut up!

Anyone else notice that aTm had a problem with not making the same a's ut yet didn't care they were making more than other big12 schools.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Long ago and far away, I lived in Texas. Houston, to be exact. While I've always been a Jayhawk (DIEHARD, I might add) it was extremely difficult to follow them back then

This was in another galaxy where there were no cell phones, internet, Blackberries (or any other kind of electronic fruit) and I had to tune through about 100 AM radio stations so I could hear about every fourth word out of Bob and Maxs' mouths.

Virtually all of the sports coverage in my beloved (snicker, snicker) Houston Chronicle revolved around the Houston Cougars (who, by the way were very good at the time in basketball - Phi Slamma Jamma!!), the Rice Owls (who, by the way were very very very very .....very bad - even worse than they are now - at everything).

ONCE in a blue Texas moon, you would hear a rumor about Texas A&M. It was usually in the form of a joke - "did you hear about the gorgeous blonde A&M graduate - ***Wait - if they were at A&M, they weren't blonde, they weren't gorgeous and they didn't graduate". But I got the idea that A & M, and basically the whole town of College Station was something to be avoided, like the plague, or Lady Gaga's makeup artist.

I picked up right away from the locals who knew best, that Texas A & M was basically scum. They were right. I had family in Austin, and made frequent trips back and forth from Houston to Austin. If you were unfortunate enough to have the windows down ( and you'd only do it once) and the wind was out of the north, the Aggie smell would burn your eyes and nose all the way down Highway 290 from about Prairie View to Brenham.

Some things never change.

College Station = bad, bad place. Texas A & M = bad, bad people.

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NH_JHawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Mr. Loftin was angry? He was ticked off that Beebe went back on his word? Um, what about the "agreement" you made regarding being a member of the B12 conference? Talk about being a hypocrite. What a joke...

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Travis Clementsmith 2 years, 7 months ago

Personally, I love it that it pisses A&M off. The larger institutions go flaunting around like they are the only ones that matter without a care or concern in the world for smaller institutions that depended upon them for a certain revenue stream. Now these institutions are facing non AQ conference membership and severely reduced funds because A&M had an ego problem with UT. Well, sometimes ego can get you in serious trouble.

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Geezer 2 years, 7 months ago

aTm complaining about somebody not keeping their word? Please.

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Hail_To_Thee 2 years, 7 months ago

SSSSSHHHHHH!!!!

You guys hear that????

Thats the sound of the Big 12 crumbling.

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