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Missouri officials comment on Texas A&M's move from Big 12

Wednesday, August 31, 2011 | 9:19 p.m. CDT; updated 12:00 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 1, 2011

COLUMBIA — Missouri officials say they are disappointed about the departure of Texas A&M from the Big 12 but said the league will remain a solid fixture in sports.

UM System Board of Curators member Wayne Goode said he thinks the conference will survive without the Aggies.

"We think the Big 12 is still solid. I think things are going to go forward all right," Goode said. "The Big 12 is a big draw, a big power, and I don’t think that’s going to be a problem."

 Texas A&M notified the Big 12 on Wednesday that it intends to apply for membership in a new conference and, if accepted, will end its membership with the Big 12 on June 30, 2012. Texas A &M did not release the name of its new proposed conference membership.

According to aggieathletics.com, Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin informed Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe of the move in a letter dated Wednedsay. Texas A&M has been a member of the Big 12 since 1996. The exit will leave the Big 12 with nine member schools.

MU Chancellor and president of the Big 12 board of directors Brady Deaton said Wednesday that the league "was disappointed" Texas A&M decided to leave.

"We tried to talk them out of it," Deaton said.

At this time, he said there was no concrete plan in place for how to proceed, both in regards to potential expansion and the 13-year television deal the league signed with Fox Sports, reported to be worth $1 billion. Texas A&M leaving the Big 12 could void the agreement or make it subject to renegotiation, which could spell legal trouble for Texas A&M and its new conference. It is not known whether Texas A&M's exit would change the television contract.

"Because we've been aware of this for a while, we've done some preliminary planning," Deaton said. "We want to round out the conference in the most effective way possible."

Deaton said there was no time frame in place at this juncture for putting that plan into action. He did say Tuesday, however, that a committee had been created to look at possible replacements for Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, Loftin issued a statement Wednesday about Texas A&M's motives for leaving.

"As I have indicated throughout this process, we are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs," Loftin said in a statement. "This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically."

The announcement comes after speculation this month that Texas A&M plans to join the Southeastern Conference. ESPN.com reported Wednesday that the SEC has not yet received an application from Texas A&M to join the conference.

"The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12," Beebe said in a Big 12 news release. "As previously stated, the conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options."

Goode said he had hoped the meetings following Nebraska and Colorado's departure last year would provide a resolution, but he knew the relationship between the University of Texas and Texas A&M could lead to more movement.

"After last year, the schools got together and had a pretty good understanding that everybody wanted to move forward," Goode said. "We thought 'everyone' included A&M, but anyone who is familiar with this knows A&M and University of Texas have had their differences over time. My personal opinion is that is the problem that surfaced here."

MU Athletics Director Mike Alden released a statement to Missouri fans acknowledging Texas A&M's departure and the university's commitment "to working hard to keep the Big 12 a strong and successful conference."

The move means more questions for the Big 12, which was down to 10 teams after Nebraska and Colorado left the conference in July. Both schools paid penalties for leaving the conference, and it is likely Texas A&M will face similar penalties.

Tuesday, Southern Methodist University athletics director Steve Orsini said he believes SMU would make a good addition to the Big 12.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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