Planning for the Big 12’s future

Committee formed to look at possible replacements for Texas A&M

By the Associated Press

The Big 12 board of directors has formed a committee to look at possible replacements for Texas A&M if the Aggies leave the league as expected.

Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, who serves as the board chairman, said Tuesday the committee could also address the possibility of expanding the conference even if Texas A&M stays put. He said the committee is looking at expansion in the “broadest context” and will make a recommendation to the board concerning whether expanding the conference “by one or more members” is beneficial.

Deaton said the Big 12 board has not received notification that the Aggies plan to leave.

The Aggies have said they are interested in joining the Southeastern Conference and they received a letter Monday from Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe outlining the withdrawal procedure -- including “financial provisions,” presumably exit fees -- if they go.

Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook would not provide any other details of the letter or comment on what A&M’s next step might be. Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin sent a letter to the Big 12 last week formally telling Beebe they are exploring their options.

The league’s board of directors addressed the possible departure of the Aggies last weekend.

There is concern that a departure by the Aggies could jeopardize the future of the Big 12, which is down to 10 teams after Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) left the league in July. Loftin has said the Aggies would consider how their departure would impact the future of the Big 12 before any decision is made.

There has been a lot of speculation about possible schools that could replace the Aggies if they leave and Deaton says the conference is ready to “act aggressively to assure a strong Big 12 for the future.”

So far, the only school to publicly express interest in moving to the Big 12 is SMU, now in Conference USA. Athletic director Steve Orsini said he has had informal talks with Big 12 officials for some time to inform them of the school’s improvements and growth.

The Big 12 agreed to a 13-year television deal with Fox Sports in April worth more than $1 billion. There is a chance the contract could be voided if the Aggies leave the conference, which could lead to legal issues for Texas A&M and its new league.

“The Big 12 remains a strong conference with a very effective media contract in place,” Deaton said in the statement Tuesday.

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