A story that originally began over a year ago is now finally reaching its conclusion. The Southeastern Conference extended a formal invitation tonight following a unanimous vote of the SEC presidents. However, that pending invite has one clause the Aggies still have to clear.
Bernie Machen, chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors released the following statement.
"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 We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action.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."
That school is Baylor. However, sources close to the situation feel that this issue should be settled within the next 24 hours. At that time A&M will call a press conference to accept their invitation to join the SEC.
Also included in the statement was a letter from Dan Beebe to Mike Slive in which Beebe says the following:
"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."
9:30 AM Update
According to sources close to the SEC, Baylor has already informed the SEC of their intent to back down this morning. Based on that, I believe an announcement will be made today.
10:40 AM Update
A&M President R. Bowen Loftin released the following statement:
"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 the 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."
11:45 AM Update
According to sources close to the talks, part of the reason Baylor has started to back down from their hard line over the last 24 hours is potential legal issues coming back from the SEC. Reportedly, Baylor voted for the original agreement included in the SEC statement today that was written by Dan Beebe.
If so, sources tell us that Baylor could potentially face action for misrepresenting themselves in this issue.
The latest I'm hearing is that Baylor, A&M and the SEC will likely settle something today, though the details of that are still unclear.
I want to clarify something from earlier. My SEC source this morning that told me that they were hearing Baylor had backed off may have been right at the time.
According to FlightAware, Florida's plane was schedule to take off for College Station this morning and was then diverted back to Gaineseville. Remember that Florida's president is the chair of the SEC. From what I'm hearing, the SEC believed that Baylor had backed off this morning, but that was not the case.
The Big 12 Presidents are currently in a teleconference that could produce even more drama this afternoon. However, as recently as 30 minutes ago I was told that Baylor, A&M and the SEC were in "extreme negotiations."
More as it becomes available.
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