A scheduling nightmare might unfold, but Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive seems content with 13 league teams — at least for the 2012-13 season.
When Texas A&M departs the Big 12 and officially becomes a member of the SEC on July 1, 2012, Slive “anticipates” the Aggies will be the lone addition for the next school year.
“We have not been necessarily looking to expand,” Slive said at a celebration at Texas A&M on Monday. “At some point in time, that may come to pass. But this isn’t something that we feel we have to do right away. Clearly, scheduling with 13 is not easy, and we’ll work through that. But we will remain very thoughtful and very strategic about what we do in terms of further expansion.”
Texas A&M easily will be the league’s most Western team. For Vanderbilt teams, it will be a 775-mile trip to College Station, Texas.
Slive said a transition team already is in place to begin scheduling for next year. He said the group, which met with Texas A&M officials Monday, will put together several schedule options — for all sports — which will then be reviewed by the schools’ athletic directors.
Slive also added he would like to continue the rivalry between Texas A&M and Texas, which appears to be staying in the Big 12 after exploring other conference options. The Aggies and the Longhorns have met on the football field for the last 117 years.
“I would hate to give up the Texas series,” Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne said. “That is such a storied, storied tradition and we would like to continue that.”
The expansion will be the SEC's first since 1991, when the league added South Carolina.
Slive said the SEC wasn’t looking to grow. Instead Texas A&M came to the league in July, inquiring about joining. The Aggies are the third team to leave the Big 12, joining Nebraska and Colorado, in the last two years.
“What I suggested to my colleagues in the Big 12 over the last several months is that we really needed to look internally into the Big 12 and ask the question, ‘Why did Nebraska want to leave last year? Why did Colorado want to leave? Why was there so much turmoil there?'" Texas A&M president Bowen Loftin said. “The revenue sharing within the SEC is equal. It is not so within the Big 12 currently. ... There's not equality in terms of revenue sharing right now, which is one critical issue within the Big 12.”
Loftin added that the SEC is a great fit for Texas A&M and the school will gain more national attention with its new conference affilation.
The competition certainly will get tougher, especially in football where the SEC has produced the last five national champions. Texas A&M is currently ranked 14th in the nation.
“The Aggies are relevant in college athletics,” said Byrne, who watched the Texas A&M women’s basketball team capture the national championship last season. “We are building champions at Texas A&M. I believe being a part of the best conference in the country goes with our philosophy that a rising tide raises all ships. When you increase the competition level, your athletes will step up and we will continue to get better every day, every month, every year. That’s our goal: winning championships at Texas A&M.”