Wild Wednesday: KU not planning to sue, but hasn't waived legal rights with regards to A&M
7:17 p.m. Update:
The official word from chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little's office came out while I was talking with coach Gill (of course) and it went as follows:
"We are not planning litigation, but we have not waived our legal rights in this matter."
The interpretation of that statement is up in the air, however, it tends to suggest that KU wants to remain a loyal member of the Big 12 and that a strong Big 12 is the best outcome for KU.
One wrinkle that makes me think we're closer to that happening came when sources told me this evening that during this afternoon's Big 12 conference call, Baylor, Iowa State, KU and K-State all said they would not waive their right to sue but were not planning legal action.
After a long pause, Oklahoma's representatives said they would waive their right to sue.
That opens up further interpretation, though, again, seems to suggest that the Sooners may be leaning more toward sticking with the Big 12 and were, in fact, trying to "let A&M go" so the rest of the conference could move on.
ESPN's Andy Katz is reporting that sources told him that everyone on the conference call except OU announced that it would not waive its right to sue the SEC.
Talk about a show of solidarity.
Again, these are just reads on my part based on people I've talked to and information I've gathered. I'm not claiming that any of this is the way it's going to shake out.
As we head into the night and wait for more to come out, I'll leave you with an updated version of my most likely scenarios for Kansas at this point.
- Big East 40%
- Big 12 40%
- Pac-12 15%
- Other 5%
Texas wants the Big 12. Oklahoma needs the Big 12. And the rest of the schools would prefer it over scrambling to find an alternative.
One quick guess: If the conference does survive again, they'll quickly add teams in an attempt to get back to 12. More teams, especially teams that want to be there, means greater stability.
6:15 p.m. Update
Dan Beebe and the Big 12 Conference have issued a statement presenting their version of events regarding the waiver that wasn't.
According to Beebe, the waiver was only meant to apply to the Big 12 Conference, Inc., and did not, and could not, cover the individual member institutions.
Here's the whole statement:
"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. 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. Although they were not obligated to do so, the Big 12 Board of Directors decided to accommodate that request as it relates to The Big 12 Conference, Inc., which is reflected in the September 2 letter sent to SEC commissioner Mike Slive.
However, the waiver did not and could not bind the individual member institutions' governing boards to waive institutional rights. 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."
Will the schools stay together? Check back later for more updates.
5:48 p.m. Update:
Heading to KU football practice for a quick chat with coach Gill and a few players. Don't forget KU has a GAME this weekend, 6 p.m. vs. Northern Illinois at home.
Hold tight. Be back as soon as possible to jump back in.
5:33 p.m. Update:
The Texas site for 24/7 sports.com is reporting that a source close to Baylor has said a deal is done, the Big 12 will not sue the SEC and A&M is free to leave.
Not much more than that to the report, which hasn't picked up steam anywhere else.
But here it is for those who want to peruse... http://texas.247sports.com/Board/21/Report-Deal-reached-AM-to-SEC-4118128/1
Similar stuff surfacing on an LSU message board known as TigerDroppings... That site says gentleman's agreement has been reached between Big 12 and SEC that includes a stipulation that SEC will not poach any more Big 12 schools. Sorry Mizzou.
If true, this could go a long way toward ending the crazy part of this mess. The big question then becomes was a deal reached because OU is committed to the Big 12 or is the dream over and will the rest of the league have to start searching for new homes?
Hard to read right now...
4:46 p.m. Update:
Here's this from the AP... Helps clear a few things up...
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — The Associated Press has obtained an email indicating that it was Baylorthat raised the specter of legal action to stop Texas A&M from leaving the Big 12.
The email was sent late Tuesday by Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe to Mike Slive, his counterpart at the SEC.
It says the Southeastern Conference will need to ask each Big 12 school to waive their legal rights to clear the way for Texas A&M to join the SEC. Beebe says: "I recognize that this issue has been raised due to BaylorUniversity's indication that its governing board has not waived the university's rights" to take legal action.
Beebe had sent a letter to Slive on Sept. 2 saying that the Big 12 "and its members" would not go to court to sue the SEC or its 12 member schools over Texas A&M as long as the deal was secured by Thursday afternoon.
Beebe then sent Tuesday night's email around the time that SEC presidents and chancellors were voting on an application from Texas A&M to join by next summer. Beebe told Slive, "I regret any confusion on this issue."
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin told the AP in an interview that Tuesday's email was "really a violation of trust" on the part of Beebe. The Big 12 did not immediately return a message left seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.
Sept. 6 email letter sent by Beebe to Slive at 10:39 p.m. (provided to The Associated Press by Loftin):
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. 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. 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.
Best regards, Dan'*
4:31 p.m. Update:
Waco Tribune officially reporting that a source close to Baylor said six Big 12 schools have agreed to sign waiver freeing Texas A&M if Oklahoma commits to the conference.
That sounds about as dysfunctional as it can get. If teams don't want to be in this conference, how is that a good thing for the conference's future?
Here's the brief Waco Trib report: http://www.wacotrib.com/news/breakingnews/Big-12-school-threatens-legal-action-as-SEC-invites-Texas-AM-to-join-league.html
3:46 p.m. Update:
KU associate athletic director for media relations, Jim Marchiony, said Wednesday afternoon that KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was engaged in discussions with her staff about whether KU should waive its legal rights regarding Texas A&M's move to the SEC.
According to a letter from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, dated Sept. 2, the Big 12 had universally agreed to waive all legal rights that could prevent A&M from joining the SEC. While that letter covered the Big 12 as a whole, the individual Big 12 schools retained their own rights and, now that A&M has officially been accepted into the SEC, the question becomes whether each Big 12 school will allow it to happen.
The letter was posted here earlier today, but one line that needs to be revisited is the following: Beebe: ...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...
We have not been able to confirm whether that statement and its reference to "the Big 12 and its members" was enough to waive the rights of the individual schools or just the conference as a whole, but, clearly, the letter did not speak for everyone.
So far, Baylor and Iowa State have gone on record saying they would not waive their rights.
A radio report out of Dallas said that KU and K-State had joined them but Marchiony said he was in the process of finding out if a decision had been made on Kansas' end.
As of 4:20, Gray-Little remained on the phone and Marchiony said he did not know when Gray-Little and the university would make a decision.
3:31 p.m. Update:
Iowa State is officially announcing its intentions...
3:27 p.m. Update:
A Dallas radio station is reporting that KU and K-State have joined the legal fight against the SEC. No links or concrete information. May be true. May not.
Working several angles to confirm.
2:43 p.m. Update:
610 Sports radio personality Bob Fescoe filling Twitter with some good stuff from KU men's basketball coach Bill Self.
Self was at a luncheon earlier today and he spoke with Fescoe, among others, shortly after.
Here's a link to Fescoe's Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#!/bobfescoe
Here are some of his highlight Tweets:
• Self: Its nervous times. The way we know college athletics could change in a short time.
• Self: I don't see it being all good and I don't see it being all negative.
• Self: This year I am not pushing the panic button.
• Self: This could lead to a break up of not just the big 12 but other leagues too.
• Self: I can't see student athletes benefiting from this.
There ya have it. The man himself has spoken. I'm sure our own KU hoops reporter, Gary Bedore, will have more on this later.
1:33 p.m. Update:
OK... So let's cut to the chase. Let's talk KU vs. MU. It's a favorite topic of everyone's around here, anyway, so why not examine it with regard to conference realignment, too.
On Tuesday, I spoke with a handful of college men's basketball and football coaches from so-called mid-major conferences not near Kansas. The main question I asked each was simple: Which school, Kansas or Missouri, is more attractive on the national landscape in your eyes?
All but one of them answered Missouri. The one who didn't, a college basketball coach, said it was equal and it was only because of Kansas basketball.
While there's a fair chance that KU and Mizzou could wind up together when all of this is over, there's an equally fair chance that the two schools could become competitors for spots, especially in the Big Ten and Pac-12. If that's the case, it could be time for KU to call in some heavy hitters to lobby for the Jayhawks. And I'm not talking Tom Osborne because he's friends with Turner Gill here. Although support from the Big Red would help.
Here's one columnist, Omaha's Tom Shatel, who says KU is a more attractive option for the Big Ten than the Tigers.
I'm on the lookout for more and I'm sure they're out there... both ways.
1:10 p.m. Update:
With the news out of Baylor looking legit, it seems that A&M will get its wish and head to the SEC at some point soon.
With that in mind we can get back on track in terms of the question: What comes next.
Here's an interesting page that a group of Mizzou fans have set up, which expresses their clear interest in joining the SEC.
Reports from SEC country have indicated that the mystery 14th team for the SEC has come down to West Virginia and Missouri. That could be the next domino to fall.
Just for giggles, here's some more from the West Virginia side of things, too, from WVU's Oliver Luck.
11:41 a.m. Update:
Various Twitter reports from Texas A&M sources are saying that Baylor has backed down on its stance to sue the SEC, which gives A&M the green light to make the move.
It also gives the rest of the nation the green light to buckle up and prepare for a wild couple of days. It looks as if the big one is here...
No word on whether this came as a result of the Big 12 conference call, which was scheduled for noon, or if that call was moved up or cancelled.
One source says an announcement from Baylor is expected soon.
11:14 a.m. Update:
Great perspective here from our old friends in Colorado. The Denver Post's John Henderson reports that CU is not in any hurry to rejoin forces with its old Big 12 mates.
Can you blame 'em?
10:53 a.m. Update:
Here's the full statement from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin:
"We are certainly pleased with the action taken last night by the presidents and chancellors of the Southeastern Conference to unanimously accept Texas A&M as the league's 13th member. However, this acceptance is conditional, and we are disappointed in the threats made by one of the Big 12 member institutions to coerce Texas A&M into staying in Big 12 Conference. These actions go against the commitment that was made by this university and the Big 12 on Sept. 2. We are working diligently to resolve any and all issues as outlined by the SEC."
10:25 a.m. Update:
The latest from Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com says the SEC wants all nine schools in the Big 12 to sign a waiver saying they will not sue the SEC over the depature of Texas A&M to the SEC and the Big 12 schools will not sign those waivers.
Working on confirming this, at least from people at the three local schools, KU, KSU and MU.
Brown also said that a A&M officials have told Orangebloods that a planned celebration in College Station has been put on hold for now.
10:03 a.m. Update:
-- LATEST UPDATE -- Matt Mosley, co-host of ESPN 103.3 radio show, columnist and TV analyst for Fox Sports Southwest, is reporting via Twitter that Baylor is not going to sue the SEC and that the whole thing was a bit of a misunderstanding because of a small delay in BU officials sending the letter of agreement in.
This doesn't surprise me at all. Things are so tense and volatile right now. Even a three-minute delay can create chaos and feeling of Doomsday coming.
We'll see if this holds.
Mosley's Twitter page: http://twitter.com/#!/mattmosley
9:52 a.m Update:
I know we're all aware how fragile this whole situation is... but it's amazing how much posturing is going on out there. All in the name of protecting yourself legally.
While everybody in all of the major conferences is talking and planning and preparing for an absolution, the conference leaders (save for Beebe) are almost all saying that they don't want to expand and they're happy, for now, with the situation they're in.
Here's a great recap from Jon Wilner in the bay area, who reports that the Pac-12 does not want to expand but will be forced to if the A&M to SEC move goes down.
Although we've hit a snag, I can't see any way that A&M is kept out of the SEC. They want to go. The SEC wants them. Lawsuit, Schmawsuit. These things can go away as quickly as they pop up. Ever heard of a little something called a counter-lawsuit? This could get ugly before it goes away, but it will go away.
Hearing from a couple of different sources that the Big 12 is preparing for a conference call today, not that that should surprise anyone. No clue what the exact topic will be today but I have to think that with all of these schools having so many irons in the fire, it's going to be more about talking Baylor off the ledge than trying to keep the Big 12 together.
8:43 a.m. Update:
Good morning. Let's jump right in, shall we?
We begin today with threats of news of a good old-fashioned law suit from "at least one school in the Big 12."
All reports seem to indicate that that school is Baylor and, the Bears' unhappiness here could put a major snag A&M's ability to move to the SEC any time soon.
Here's the statement from the SEC regarding accepting A&M and their concern about a lawsuit.
Beyond that, there's now a letter circulating that allegedly was written by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to SEC commissioner Mike Slive. No word on if the letter is official or not, but here's a look at what the letter says.
I've highlighted the best parts...
September 2, 2011
Commissioner Southeastern Conference
2201 Richard Arrington Boulevard
North Birmingham, AL 35203
This is to confirm 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.
Such admission of Texas A&M will result in the withdrawal of Texas A&M from the Big 12 Conference effective June 30, 2012. We both agreed it is in the best interests of each of our conferences and our member institutions of higher education to waive any and all legal actions by either conference and its members resulting from admission of Texas A&M into the SEC, as long as such admission is confirmed publicly by September 8, 2011.
If any of your presidents and chancellors have concerns about this commitment of the Big 12 Conference, they may contact me or Brady Deaton, Big 12 Board of Director chairman and chancellor of the University of Missouri, Columbia.
Sincerely, Dan Beebe Commissioner DB:me cc: Kevin Sweeney, Polsinelli Shughart PC
Looks like today could get crazy.