Vahe Gregorian of the Saint Louis Post Dispatch gives his take on the latest conference realignment stories and previews Missouri/Oklahoma. Check out my recap of Round two of the conference shuffle and my story on Chuck Neinas on Bleacher Report.
Last Wednesday featured a hurricane of developments with respect to conference alignment. Here’s a rundown of the events that have took place over that 36 hour period (It sort of reads like a really tumultuous episode of 24, except Jack Bauer isn’t there to save the day and the terrorists win). Update: I included a brief rundown of the events from over the weekend at the end of this post. I will publish a new update thread once things start up again.
The following is a statement from SEC commissioner Mike Slive.
In the 78 year history of the SEC, the conference had accepted the membership applications of only two institutions—Arkansas and South Carolina. Texas A&M is now the third. We remain optimistic that Texas A&M will be a member of the SEC and have started to look at schedules for 2012-13 involving 13 teams.
As I said over the past year or so, the SEC has had no particular interest in expansion. We were, and are, happy with 12 teams. If Texas A&M’s President, Dr. Bowen Loftin had not called me in late July, we had no plans to explore adding an institution.
However, when President Loftin called we became interested. Texas A&M is an outstanding academic institution with an exceptional athletic program, passionate fans and wonderful traditions. While the SEC wasn’t thinking about expansion, it was impossible not to be interested in Texas A&M. As you can see from the unanimous vote of our twelve Presidents/Chancellors, we would very much like to have Texas A&M as a member of our conference.
When Texas A&M joins our conference, we don’t have immediate plans for a 14th member. We aren’t thinking in terms of numbers. We think about the strength of the SEC and the attractiveness of Texas A&M as an institution.
It appears that the SEC is poised to add Texas A&M despite any potential litigation from Baylor or any of the remaining Big 12 schools. Slive’s comments come after Oklahoma’s board of regents met and, reportedly, approved OU’s application to the Pac-12 conference by the end of the month (this in spite of the fact that commissioner Larry Scott said Friday night that the Pac-12 is not currently interested in expanding). One last bit of information to pass along: Missouri’s board of curators is set to meet tonight. Don’t read into this too much, however, as tonight’s meeting was already scheduled to discuss the on-going university-system president search.
UPDATE (Wed 3:33 PM): According to Chris Level, none of the Big 12 schools waived their right to seek litigation against the SEC. He tweets that a statement from the Big 12 will be coming shortly. If Level is right, Dan Beebe could be in hot water for the letter he sent to Slive informing him the schools had already agreed not to pursue lawsuits against the SEC.
UPDATE (Wed 3:24 PM): Iowa State has officially joined Baylor in refusing to waive its legal rights to sue Texas A&M and/or the SEC according to a report in the Des Moines Register. There are rumors circulating that Kansas and Kansas State have also refused to sign a waiver, but there are no official reports confirming those rumors.
UPDATE (Wed 1:10 PM): The Big 12 has been working behind the scenes to replace Texas A&M if and when it leaves for the SEC. In an interview with Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writer Matt Jones, Arkansas president Jeff Long said the Big 12 contacted the Razorbacks about joining their conference, but those conversations did not go very far. He also said that while the SEC is prepared to move forward with 13 teams, other teams have contacted the SEC about applying for membership.
We are prepared to move forward with 13 teams if they are released from the Big 12…We are not out searching for other institutions. They are knocking on our door.
UPDATE (Wed 12:01 PM): Richard Justice has confirmed report from Tarpley & InsideTAMU that Baylor is no longer seeking legal action against the SEC & Texas A&M. Chris Level, of Rivals.com & 104.3 ESPN Radio in Lubbock, is reporting that Baylor has been in contact with Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas, and Kansas State trying to gain their support against Texas A&M.
The Big 12 board of directors are currently in a teleconference that began at noon.
UPDATE (Wed 11:42 AM): InsideTAMU has confirmed that Baylor is backing down. Again, no one from Baylor, Texas A&M, the Big 12, or the SEC have come out and publicly confirmed these reports.
UPDATE (Wed 11:34 AM): Jeff Tarpley (of Rivals.com) tweeted that Baylor is backing down. As of now, no official reports have been published, but there are numerous tweets suggesting that Baylor is not going to pursue litigation against the SEC when they add Texas A&M. Tarpley said an announcement should be coming from Baylor later today.