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Question of the Day
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS (AP) - Texas A&M sees no future in the Big 12. For now, the Aggies aren’t going anywhere and the league is in turmoil.
“We are being held hostage right now,” Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin told The Associated Press. “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 angry statement came on a whirlwind Wednesday that left the future of the Big 12 up in the air. The Southeastern Conference kicked things off by saying it would be willing to make the Aggies the league’s 13th member, but only if legal issues could be cleared up.
What followed was a lot of finger-pointing.
Texas A&M accused Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe of going back on his word and suggested that one of its fellow league schools was deliberately sabotaging its departure to the SEC.
Loftin pointed to two different statements from Beebe 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 their right to legal action over the Aggies’ move. Loftin then shared with the AP a copy of a Sept. 6 email sent by Beebe to Slive that said legal waivers from each school were actually far from being secure after Baylor raised the issue.
“If you seek waivers by the individual institutions, you must receive them from those institutions directly,” Beebe wrote. “I regret any confusion on this issue.”
The email was sent Tuesday night 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.
Loftin was clearly angry about Beebe’s statement.
“I felt that was really a violation of trust right there,” Loftin said. “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.”
Loftin said he believes Beebe’s turnaround puts the future of the 15-year-old conference in more jeopardy than A&M’s leaving.
“By keeping us in in this limbo, they really are inhibited from bringing in other members to take our place,” Loftin said. “So they’re creating more instability by taking this particular direction. We were trying to clean this up for ourselves very quickly … so they could get about their business of replacing us in a prompt way and go forward and hopefully become a better conference. How can that happen right now when they’re insisting that we simply stay in this holding pattern indefinitely while they try to figure out what’s wrong?”
The Big 12, meanwhile, accused Texas A&M of making an extraordinary request that will put its members at risk of losing “millions” of dollars, 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. “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.”
By Matt Kibbe
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