The official word is that the SEC did not take a vote on conference realignment matters. As you have guessed, there's more to it than that. As you may have guessed, those danged lawyers have made this more complicated. The biggest issue, and it's one explained well by BON's billyzane, is that the Big 12 could sue the SEC for tortious interference the SEC were to go out and poach the Aggies from the Big 12, the theory being that the Aggies already had a contract with the Big 12 and because the SEC would have interfered with that, that the SEC would be liable for damages (or something like that).
My understanding is this is simply part of the (convoluted) legal process of A&M bolting the Big 12 for the SEC – that it must be documented that A&M courted the SEC, not vice versa, to avoid potential lawsuits. The A&M regents are still expected to hold a teleconference on Monday to discuss "conference alignment."
When a formal announcement takes place that A&M is headed to the SEC is to be determined. There’s also a hastily-called hearing scheduled Tuesday in the Capitol in Austin to discuss conference alignment. I wouldn’t expect an announcement until at least after that.
This is a process. The Texas A&M Board of Regents is still scheduled to meet Monday. The item that would authorize R. Bowen Loftin to negotiate athletic conference membership remains on the agenda. Other issues also require resolution. The higher education committee of the Texas House of Representatives still plans to question Loftin in Austin on Tuesday afternoon about a possible move. In a statement released Sunday, Loftin said everything will move forward as planned.
I'd also like to stir the pot a bit by linking to Out Kick the Coverage's Clay Travis, who writes that ESPN and television contracts are complicating the entire matter. I'll let Travis explain:
OKTC has learned that one of the major points of discussion at today's SEC president's meeting was the potential contractual fallout of A&M's addition to the SEC. In particular the conflicting positions of ESPN in regards to its Big 12 television deal and its existing SEC television deal. That is, ESPN has conflicting good faith obligations to both conferences. Why are these obligations conflicting? Because OKTC has heard from multiple sources that the television deals between the Big 12 and ESPN is void as soon as the membership falls below ten.
So if Texas A&M bolts for the SEC then the Big 12's TV deal with ESPN doesn't exist anymore. (FYI, Fox is presently paying $90 million a year to the Big 12 while ESPN is paying $65 million a year. But, and this a key distinction, Fox has no conflict here since it doesn't carry SEC games.)
ESPN needs to notify the Big 12 of its intention to keep its payments to the conference the same regardless of membership numbers. ESPN may well need to provide this notice in writing to the Big 12. Then ESPN can negotiate with the SEC about what the addition of A&M might mean for the television rights fees owed to that conference. The SEC needs this information about increased rights fees before its presidents can vote on admitting anyone else.
Kirby Hocutt Comments On Status Of The Big 12 (via techathletics)
Here's a quote from Hocutt:
"I think any of us would be not honest with ourselves if we didn’t say we were disappointed to be in this position again," Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said. "It was our hope that we would not be. We didn’t believe we would be here, but we are. So you address reality and look at the circumstances and you try to address it the best you can."
And Hocutt also said this, keep in mind what Clay Travis wrote above, which is that these deals are dependent on the television networks and the Big 12 may be forced to get to 10 schools:
"My personal opinion is that 10 is a good number," he said, referring to the current set of teams. "That’s a difficult question to answer, because television is such a prominent piece of what we do. As we go forward, if there is change, we’ll be in communication with our television partners to say, ‘Hey, what is the best position for the Big 12 Conference as we move forward?’"
I know that this is a short post, but consider this to be your open thread for the day. For those of you who don't want to talk about conference realignment, there will be a preview to be posted later today and I keep putting off the scrimmage that happened on Saturday that no one was able to watch, except for the coaching staff.
UPDATE: DMN's Mike Graham talked with Texas Tech President Guy Bailey this morning and had this to say about Texas Tech possibly moving to the Pac-12:
"Here's the deal, what the Pac-12 offered last year, and I think they would be open to this year, is a package deal," Bailey told the radio show. "You'd have to have four schools and Texas is the cornerstone to that. Remember, the issue last year came down to the Longhorn Network. The University of Texas wanted its own network for tertiary rights and the Pac-12 doesn't allow that. We can cut that out right there. I don't foresee that happening."
"If A&M leaves, we're going to use this opportunity to build one of the strongest conferences in the United States," Bailey said. "What we'll do, we're going to be very aggressive in recruiting schools and I don't know how many we're eventually going to recruit, we'll need to work with FOX and our other media partners in doing this.
"In the past we've sort of been reactive, I think the nine remaining members of the Big 12 have decided that the reactive behavior - it's time to get rid of that. It's time to be proactive and I think you'll see a very proactive approach... I think you ought to think of conference realignment with the Big 12 being one of the cornerstones."