In a letter to SEC commissioner Mike Slive dated Sept. 2, Slive’s Big 12 counterpart Dan Beebe confirmed that “the Big 12 and its members will not take any legal action for any possible claims against the SEC or its members relating to the departure of Texas A&M.”
Thus, it was somewhat of a shock at first to see at minimum Baylor, along with possibly Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State, refusing to relinquish their rights to possibly pursue legal action to prevent A&M from moving from the Big 12 to the SEC. After all, the letter from Beebe to Slive clearly states that neither the conference nor its members will take legal action against the SEC or its members, right?
As it turns out, there was a second missive sent.
In a letter dated Sept. 6 — yesterday, the same day the SEC’s presidents and chancellors met to unanimously approve A&M as its 13th member — Beebe fired off the following “oops, my bad” message to Slive:
“You have notified me that the SEC is willing to accept the application of Texas A&M to become a member of the SEC, provided that the Big 12 member institutions individually waive any legal actions against the SEC for its decision. I recognize that this issue has been raised due to Baylor University’s governing board’s decision not to waive the university’s rights. As you know, the attached letter waived the right of the Big 12 Conference, Inc, to take legal action against the SEC. Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton has told me he has informed Texas A&M president Bowen Loftin that such action by the Big 12 Board of Directors was not binding on the individual institutions’ governing boards. If you seek waivers by the individual institutions, you must receive them directly from those institutions directly.
“I regret any confusion on this issue.
“Best regards, Dan”
And people wonder why the Big 12’s in the shape its in? Actually, and unbelievably, that’s not even the worst part as Beebe fired off the following public statement Wednesday evening that’s a bizarre mix of miffed and huffy.
You know, the kind attitude your teenage daughter gives you, well, all the time about anything.
“This is the first time to my knowledge that a conference has been requested to waive any legal claims toward another conference for any damages suffered with a membership change.
“The Big 12 Conference was asked by Texas A&M University and the Southeastern Conference to waive any such claim to help facilitate Texas A&M’s departure from the Conference without any consideration to the Big 12. Although they were not obligated to do so, the Big 12 Board of Directors decided to accommodate that request as it relates to The Big 12 Conference, Inc., which is reflected in the September 2 letter sent to SEC commissioner Mike Slive. However, the waiver did not and could not bind the individual member institutions’ governing boards to waive institutional rights.
“If the departure of Texas A&M results in significant changes in the Big 12 membership, several institutions may be severely affected after counting on revenue streams from contracts that were approved unanimously by our members, including Texas A&M. In some cases, members reasonably relied on such approval to embark on obligations that will cost millions of dollars.”
Again, is it any wonder — uneven revenue sharing aside — that the Big 12 is on the verge of imploding? Does the commissioner or Board of Directors even know its own conference bylaws as it pertains to their members’ legal rights? And, if not, wouldn’t you think they’d run an initial letter that important through legal beforehand? Based on the “confusion on this issue”, a hearty nyet would be in order.
Which, oddly enough, is the same answer to the question, “does the Big 12 have a future?”