The Daily Gamecock

Texas A&M officially joins Southeastern Conference

Pastides says SEC likely to have another team in two years

Texas A&M was unanimously approved as the Southeastern Conference’s thirteenth team during a teleconference Friday, shaking up the conference landscape and solving an additional piece of the ever-evolving puzzle.

The decision was announced in a news release Sunday.

“Texas A&M is a very weighty school, a very important school in the national landscape,” USC President Harris Pastides said to The Daily Gamecock. “This was not by a fly by night university that couldn’t find a place to be.”

Pastides said the SEC currently has no plans to recruit other members but said the SEC is likely to have a fourteenth member within two years. 

“We are prepared to exist as a 13-member league for a season or two if necessary,” Pastides said. “We are not going to raid another league. We are not going to go recruiting.”

Pastides said other schools “may or may not” have had informal conversations about joining, but no other university has applied for membership.

The agreement to add another came after ESPN increased its overall SEC television payout to ensure no school will lose money by bringing Texas A&M into the Southeastern Conference, Pastides said. The contract, which varies from year to year but typically is more than $100 million, is currently split between 12 schools. It will now be split between 13.

“All the presidents would have had the heartburn about accepting a 13th team and losing money,” Pastides said.

Pastides said the deal is “neutral financially in the short-term.”

“Hopefully in the long term, the expansion of the league into a larger, new market will mean additional revenue,” Pastides said.

The plan is currently to put Texas A&M in “one division or the other for a year,” creating a six-member side and a seven-member side. Pastides said the university’s geography means they’re likely to join the West next year, and if the league remained at 13 teams for another year, Texas A&M might move to the East.

Forming the schedule will be difficult as long as there are an odd number of teams, Pastides said. Pastides said he doesn’t know if USC will face Texas A&M in 2012.

“I’m glad it’s not my responsibility to create the schedule,” Pastides said.

Pastides also said creating a league with more than 14 members could prove troublesome. The president has previously expressed his support for a 14-team league.

Mega conferences could lose rivalries, boost travel costs for universities and create difficulties for fans who want to travel for away games, Pastides said.

“There will be a tennis team that has to go to College Station or a volleyball team and we’ll do it,” Pastides said.


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