For as much talk as there’s been about Texas A&M going to the SEC — and there has been a lot — there’s been no action so far. The SEC’s meeting to delay a possible expansion has splashed cold water on the notion that A&M’s supposed announcement to move to another conference could happen at some point this week, although it very well could.
But the legal ramifications of such a move are heavy. A&M would likely be asked to relinquish 90 percent or more of their annual conference revenue if the Aggies decide to join the SEC by 2012. Likewise, the SEC could find themselves on the wrong end of the check-writing process if A&M doesn’t take the proper steps toward conference flipping.
A&M would have to leave the Big 12 first — effectively breaching their contract — before a formal invite from the SEC could be given.
Otherwise, you could see the term “tortious interference” throw around. In this instance, tortious interference essentially means the SEC could be liable for any or all damages to the Big 12 proximately caused by A&M’s departure if it’s proven the SEC acted intently toward A&M prior to breach of contract.
Such damages as, say, losing the recently-inked second-tier television rights between the Big 12 and FOX. Or, the first-tier rights between the Big 12 and ESPN. Or both.
(Note: outkickthecoverage.com does a decent job of explaining the pickle ESPN finds itself in with contracts with both the Big 12 and the SEC. It’s humorous, really)
But the Big 12 may be able to keep its television agreements if they can find a “suitable” 10th member. Who that member would be, provided A&M leaves, is still up for debate.
Houston, BYU, Louisville and Air Force have all been mentioned by name.
When asked if discussions have begun to find a replacement, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said, “not in an official manner, but it’s going to start.
“I think 10 seems to be the number our folks are real excited about maintaining, and we feel we have an attractive group of institutions that might be attractive to others to consider.”
It’s unclear at this point if any other members besides A&M would reach out to the SEC – or any other conference — for potential membership. Missouri has denied any contact with the SEC and the word on the Big 12 street is that all nine members not named A&M are committed to the future of the conference.
Whether they actually are, and whether FOX and ESPN are equally so, is still to be seen.