As it turns out, Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman and his Aggies won't be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC after all. At least not right away.
Texas A&M's path out of the Big 12 and into the Southeastern Conference grew wider — and closer to an end — on Monday.
The Aggies received a letter from the Big 12 that “outlines the withdrawal procedures according to the financial provisions of the Big 12 bylaws and mutual waivers of legal claims,” according to A&M spokesman Jason Cook.
In less legalese, A&M considers the setting aside of threats of lawsuits huge as it continues the process of exiting the Big 12 and entering the SEC. On Thursday, A&M sent the Big 12 a letter explaining the Aggies intended to “explore our options” concerning conference alignment, following Nebraska's manner of announcing its exit from the Big 12 a year ago.
Determining an exit fee — and estimates on that are wide-ranging according to various media reports — appears to be the lone remaining obstacle for the Aggies' impending departure. An announcement they've left the Big 12 might come as soon as this week.
An announcement that they'll join the SEC as its 13th member — and in time for the 2012 season — should come in the days after the Big 12 exit declaration. All along, A&M has hoped to have the conference shift finalized by the end of this month. Whatever the amount of the exit fee, it doesn't appear to be a sticking point in keeping the Aggies' exit from moving forward.
“While this is a complex and long-term decision, it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time,” A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement Monday.
Big 12 members have said they'd like to keep the Aggies in the fold, but the league also said in a statement last week that the Big 12 “is poised to move aggressively with options” should A&M depart.
“I certainly appreciate the discussion among the Big 12 presidents/chancellors and the expression of their desire for Texas A&M to remain in the conference,” Loftin said Monday. “We all agree that Texas A&M is an extremely valuable institution; thus, it is incumbent upon me, as the president of the university, to ensure that we are in a position to enhance our national visibility and future financial opportunity.”
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