The official Texas A&M fight song includes a line that bids farewell to Texas, “so long to the orange and white.’’ By this time next year, Texas A&M may have said goodbye to a lot more than its storied, century-old rivalry with Texas.
Texas A&M announced yesterday it will leave the Big 12 Conference by July 2012 if it can find another home, preferably in the Southeastern Conference.
The decision could set off another round of conference realignment in college sports and it raises questions about the future of the Big 12, which is starting the football season with 10 teams after losing Nebraska and Colorado. The Big 12 said it would move quickly to find at least one replacement for the Aggies but offered no timeline.
“The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12,’’ Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a statement. “As previously stated, the conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options.’’
The SEC said it hadn’t received an application from Texas A&M to join the league and that it would have no further comment. The SEC has reaffirmed its 12-school membership, but remains open to expansion talks.
Leaving the Big 12 “is in the best interest of Texas A&M,’’ said university president R. Bowen Loftin, who formally notified the league with a letter after earlier securing details on the withdrawal process. He said he hopes the move can be amicable and presumably hopes to negotiate a reasonable exit fee.
“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. “This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically.’’
Texas A&M, which has been in the Big 12 since its founding in 1996, said it will submit an application to join another, unspecified conference. If accepted, Texas A&M will leave the Big 12, effective June 30, 2012.
Texas, blamed by some for running off Nebraska with its deal with ESPN to set up its own network, said it remains committed to the Big 12 even with its rivalry with A&M in jeopardy. But Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds didn’t address the game or even A&M by name.
“As we stated last summer, we are strong supporters and members of the Big 12 conference,’’ Dodds said. “Recent events have not altered our confidence in the league.’’
So far, the only school to publicly express interest in joining the Big 12 is SMU, the former Southwest Conference team that now plays in Conference USA. Another Conference USA team, Houston, could also be an option for the Big 12. Athletic director Mack Rhoades would not say yesterday if he has been in touch with the Big 12 or any other conference.
UConn on for Saturday Connecticut officials rescheduled the football team’s home game against Fordham to Saturday at Rentschler Field. The game was originally scheduled for tonight, but it was postponed because the stadium was being used as a distribution center for storm-related aid. The game is slated to kick off at noon at the East Hartford stadium . . . The lawyer for four men injured in a brawl involving LSU football players expects more arrests for the beating of one client who suffered three fractured vertebrae. “Other arrests could be made in this case that are just as serious as the two already made,’’ attorney Michael Bienvenu said. “This isn’t over.’’ LSU starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson and reserve linebacker Josh Johns turned themselves in to the East Baton Rouge Parish jail after police obtained warrants charging them with felony second-degree battery for the Aug. 19 melee outside Shady’s bar. Jefferson and Johns are accused of beating Andrew Lowery, who is one of Bienvenu’s four clients. Bienvenu has declined to make public the names of the three other injured men he represents, including the man with the broken vertebrae. He was allegedly pulled from a pickup truck after honking his horn at an agitated crowd of people blocking his way. “This wasn’t just Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns,’’ Bienvenu said. “We’re still looking for those guys that started that initial beating of the driver, and it is undeniably curious that nobody on that football team can come forward and say who was involved in that.’’ LSU has barred players from discussing the case publicly. Police have interviewed an undisclosed number of players, but have not discussed what was said . . . Miami coach Al Golden said he “felt helpless to defend’’ players on his team whose involvement with a former booster resulted in eight of them having to miss at least one game. Golden also told the AP that having already engineered one rebuilding project at Temple has him fully prepared for the challenges ahead at Miami . . . The NCAA denied Framingham State its appeal to allow quarterback Kurt Leone to use a fifth season of eligibility. Leone, who threw for 2,978 yards and 33 touchdowns in his only season with the Rams, played the final two snaps of the season opener his freshman year at Division 2 Merrimack.