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Birmingham, AL (Sports Network) - The Southeastern Conference has voted to accept Texas A&M as a new member, but only if the Big 12 and its members will allow it.
Texas A&M announced its decision to leave the Big 12 on August 31 and it had long been speculated that the SEC would be the school's new destination.
The SEC said it had received a letter earlier this month, assuring that no Big 12 member would impede a potential move by Texas A&M. A statement from the SEC on Wednesday said the presidents and chancellors of its member institutions met on Tuesday night to accept A&M's application. However, one Big 12 school had apparently withdrawn its previous consent of Texas A&M's departure and threatened legal action, forcing the SEC to hold off on an official acceptance.
"The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure," said Dr. Bernie Machen, chair of the SEC's presidents and chancellors, in a statement. "The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2, 2011."
Various reports indicate that Baylor is the school that has delayed the process.
Texas A&M is hoping to join the SEC for the 2012-13 academic year.
"We are certainly pleased with the action taken last night by the presidents and chancellors of the Southeastern Conference to unanimously accept Texas A&M as the league's 13th member," said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin in a statement Wednesday. "However, this acceptance is conditional, and we are disappointed in the threats made by one of the Big 12 member institutions to coerce Texas A&M into staying in Big 12 Conference. These actions go against the commitment that was made by this university and the Big 12 on September 2. We are working diligently to resolve any and all issues as outlined by the SEC."
Texas A&M will become the third school to defect from the Big 12 in just over a year. In June 2010, Nebraska announced its decision to leave for the Big Ten and Colorado decided to move to the Pac-10, now the Pac-12. Both of those departures took place effective this academic year, leaving the Big 12 with just 10 teams.
The Big 12's very existence will now come into question with rumors swirling that Oklahoma could be considering a jump to a new league. There have also been reports that SMU is ready to quickly step in as Texas A&M's replacement.
Texas A&M reportedly flirted with the SEC during last summer's major upheaval in conference realignment, which also affected teams in the Mountain West and WAC. When Nebraska and Colorado defected, the Aggies were apparently talked into remaining in the Big 12 when Texas also decided to stay.
A major television contract was then announced for the league, although Texas was able to form its own Longhorn Network. That development has been widely speculated as the final step in A&M's decision to find a new home.
The SEC had stated earlier this summer that it was happy with its current 12- team alignment, although it did not rule out future expansion. Once Texas A&M officially joins the league, at least one other school will likely be added to balance the league.
Texas A&M had been a founding member of the Big 12, which formed in 1996 after the dissolution of the Southwest Conference and the Big Eight.