ATLANTA, GA., June 6, 2012 – Entry by Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri into the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is officially set for July 1, but the celebration formally began Wednesday evening (June 6) with a festive event here that attracted about 900 Aggie and Mizzou supporters, along with leaders and coaches from both schools and alumni from other SEC schools.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was on hand to extend a warm welcome to the Aggies and Tigers and shared his views regarding the “cultural fit” they have with the current conference members, saying the two new members are “unique places with great traditions.”
Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, who led the successful effort to have the Aggies join the SEC and has been widely quoted as describing it as a “100-year decision,” opened his remarks with a big ‘Howdy!,” giving the SEC crowd a taste of the friendly atmosphere on campus and among the more than 400,000 Aggies worldwide.
“It’s great to be here to showcase Texas A&M and tell you why we believe we are a great fit for the “league of champions,” he said, adding, “it’s a red-letter—actually a maroon-letter—day for us.”
Loftin gave the crowd assembled in the heart of SEC land an overview of Texas A&M, briefly citing its history and academic status and noting some of its recent accomplishments—and pointing to the university’s emphasis on “high impact” learning and research and related endeavors.
He said joining the SEC provides a major boost for the Texas A&M brand—“not just in terms of being part of the conference’s highly respected athletic programs, but also from the perspective of greater national exposure for our academic programs and to showcase our splendid student body that now totals almost 50,000.”
Loftin was joined in celebratory remarks by his University of Missouri counterpart, Chancellor Brady J. Deaton, and athletic representatives for both schools, including Aggie head football coach Kevin Sumlin and his Mizzou counterpart, Gary Pinkel. Aggie men’s basketball coach Billy Kennedy, women’s basketball coach Gary Blair along with interim Director of Athletics Dr. John Thornton and Deputy Athletics Director Penny King were also in attendance.
Even Reveille, Texas A&M’s collie mascot, and Mizzou’s “Truman the Tiger” joined in the celebration at the JW Marriott Atlantic Buckhead.