The Southeastern Conference met today and decided not to invite any new members into its conference for now. This seems to put Texas A&M University in a bit of a tight spot. Unhappy with the upcoming launch of the University of Texas-centric Longhorn Network, the school is reportedly eager for such an opportunity to leave the Big 12 Conference.
The matter was very much on the minds of the Texas A&M University System regents when they scheduled a special meeting via telephone for tomorrow afternoon. One of the agenda items includes authorizing Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin to "to take all actions relating to Texas A&M University’s athletic conference alignment." (There's also the matter of naming a new system chancellor, an honor that is expected to go to John Sharp, the former Texas comptroller.)
While there no longer seems to be too much action to take regarding conference alignment at this time, Loftin says the meeting will go forward. "As we have seen over the past several days, there has been a considerable amount of misinformation regarding these discussions and any associated timelines," Loftin said in a statement. "The chairman of our board has indicated that the regents will proceed with tomorrow's agenda item, which authorizes the president of Texas A&M to take all actions related to athletic conference alignment."
Loftin indicated that he will also travel to Austin to testify at a meeting of the House Higher Education Committee being convened by committee chairman Dan Branch, R-Dallas, on Tuesday. "These are extremely complex issues, and it is imperative that we proceed methodically and in the best interests of Texas A&M," Loftin said.
The possibility of a conference switch, though delayed, is still in the air.
Though the SEC leaders indicated satisfaction with their current 12-member situation, they left the door open to expansion in the future. “We recognize ... that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league,” said University of Florida President Bernie Machen, who chairs the league’s presidents and chancellors committee. He indicated that the criteria and process for adding new members was also addressed in today's meeting.
With high-profile talk of conference shuffling, other Texas schools are also looking to get in on the action. Today, state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, wrote on his blog, "Along with the departure of the University of Nebraska and the University of Colorado, a Texas A&M departure would leave the Big 12 with a mere nine schools, the fewest of all the major college athletic conferences. It would only make sense, then, for the Big 12 to add at least one other school to its conference, and the obvious choice is the University of Houston."