Big 12: R. Bowen Loftin

Ever since Texas A&M and Texas concluded (paused?) their rivalry on the field when the Aggies left for the SEC, the two sides have traded barbs with public comments to play the part of rabble-rouser to their rival.

Texas AD DeLoss Dodds has done as much as anyone, stating the SEC had a "sliver of the East side" of a presence in Texas, and back in March, reiterating that Texas will "get to decide" when the two teams play again.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin responded to the "sliver" comment by speaking for the state. "We think Texas in now SEC territory. It's a little bit of an extreme to say we're a sliver in the East there," he said.

At last week's SEC meetings, a reporter asked the Aggies' prominent bowtied leader if he had any one liners to lob the Longhorns' way.

Yes, and no, was apparently the answer.

From the Dallas Morning News:
"I don't have to make it anymore," Loftin said of A&M's former Big 12 rival, as he walked away. "It's not relevant to us anymore, that's the whole point. It's not an important issue."

I'm immensely entertained by the form this rivalry has taken since it moved off the field. The two sides are heating up on the recruiting trail, too, but neither side has come close to crossing any lines while taking swipes at the other, and both sides seem successful in riling up rival fans with incendiary comments.

It's harmless. It's fun. Dodds sat down with reporters at the Big 12 meetings this week, but the Aggies hardly came up and Dodds didn't seem real talkative about the maroon-clad folks about 100 miles east of Austin.

Ultimately, though, it just makes me sad that we can't see these two play on the field and have these comments be a run-up to annual November games. Those would mean perhaps more than ever with the two sides tacking on a little conference pride to one of college football's best in-state rivalries.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: College football is worse off when Texas and Texas A&M don't play. Even if the off-field shenanigans when they don't are entertaining, too.

Aggies make Big 12 exit official

July, 3, 2012
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Sunday was the official moving day for Texas A&M, but the Aggies held a ceremony on Monday morning to raise the SEC's flags in front of the team facility in front of administration, supporters and players.

New ESPN Texas A&M writer Sam Khan was there to chronicle the historic day.
"When you're through competing against an SEC team and an SEC school is playing in an NCAA basketball playoff, women's, men's, or a football game, what do we say?" Hyman asked the crowd. "'S-E-C! S-E-C!'"

Hyman, formerly the AD at South Carolina who was officially introduced Saturday as the man who will lead Texas A&M into its new league, led chants of "S-E-C" on Monday morning as the Aggies raised the flags of their fellow SEC schools in front of McFerrin, marking another first in their historic journey.

...

As for SEC lessons, (Texas A&M president R.Bowen) Loftin has caught on quickly.

"I don't think any other conference goes out and yells 'A-C-C! A-C-C!' or 'Big 12!' or 'Pac-12!' or 'Big Ten!'" Loftin said. "You don't hear that at games. But every SEC game I go to, that's what I hear. I hear not only the schools shouting out their name, but also I hear 'S-E-C.'"

Good stuff from Khan.

And, if I may, a reminder for Dr. Loftin, whose Aggies helped give birth to the very first "Big-12" chant ever.

Lunch links: Stacking up coaching salaries

May, 9, 2012
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Sent from one of my four iPads? This guy sounds amazing.

Final exit fees finalized for Mizzou, A&M

February, 28, 2012
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Missouri and Texas A&M's price tag for leaving the Big 12 will be $12.41 million, the conference announced on Tuesday.

In the fall of 2010, both schools announced they would be leaving the Big 12 on July 1, 2012. Big 12 bylaws state that universities that provide less than 12 months notice are subject to having 90 percent of their conference revenue withheld. That total was estimated at nearly $30 million for each school, but lawyers for both sides settled on $12.41 million.

The Big 12's new television contract with Fox Sports will activate on July 1, 2012, and Missouri agreed to waive all benefits from the conference's new deal, according to the release. Texas A&M, however, will receive a portion of the benefits from the contract.

Missouri agreed to pay the Big 12 Conference approximately $500,000 for its share of the actual cost of officiating expenses for 2011-12 athletic year as it has done in previous years.

"This agreement was accomplished through a collegial, respectful process among the Conference, its institutions, and the University of Missouri that led to a resolution that all parties believe is fair," Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said in the release.

"We appreciate the Big 12 working with us on a quick and amicable settlement," said Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, who indicated that the bottom-line financial impact of the withdrawal settlement will be $9.31 million.

For more on this story, go here.

Lunch links: Aggies finalizing Big 12 exit

January, 24, 2012
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Hi, my name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents.

Intrigue afoot inside Texas A&M offices

November, 30, 2011
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Just when I thought I'd seen it all, I'm reminded that I haven't seen anything yet.

Texas A&M's chief financial officer took to the popular Texas A&M message board, TexAgs.com, and criticized university president R. Bowen Loftin, who rose to prominence throughout the saga of the Aggies' move to the SEC.

From Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News:
Jeff Toole, who also serves as the school’s senior associate athletic director, described Loftin as a “putz” and a “hopelessly underqualified puppet” over the summer under the alias UtayAg.

Toole was outed Tuesday on the website by a poster dubbed “iPanic” who searched UtayAg’s posting history, and found one from more than a year ago where UtayAg identified himself as the CFO of A&M athletics.

“I was posting what I thought was an anonymous opinion,” Toole said Tuesday afternoon, adding of his prior admittance of his job as A&M athletics CFO under the UtayAg handle, “That slipped my mind.”

I've come up with plenty of bad ideas in my day, but not much tops doing something like that. Beyond that, what else is left to be said? Like I mentioned on Twitter, maybe Texas A&M is a better fit in the SEC than anyone thought.

Athletic director Bill Byrne's office responded later on Tuesday.
"I have taken disciplinary action in regard to comments made by athletics chief financial officer Jeff Toole on an internet message board about President R. Bowen Loftin. It is imperative to have respect for those we work with, and especially the leader of our University. Under no circumstances should derogatory names be used when speaking about anyone within the University community. The matter will be handled internally."

Toole also apologized in the statement.

It'll be interesting to see if the fallout from this surfaces, but perhaps Toole is just jealous of the bow tie.

Big 12 commish: Mizzou making a mistake

November, 6, 2011
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Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas says Missouri's move to the SEC is the wrong one.

"The decision by the University of Missouri to leave the Big 12 Conference is disappointing," Neinas said in a statement. "Mizzou has been a valuable member, with a Conference connection to schools in the Big 12 that dates back to 1907. I personally believe this decision is a mistake and that Missouri is a better fit in the Big 12. Once we have received a formal notice of withdrawal from Missouri, we will furnish it to our Board of Directors. The Board will review the situation and take appropriate action."

Interesting that Missouri didn't formally withdraw from the conference before announcing the move to the SEC, too.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin released a statement Sunday, too.

"We are pleased that Missouri will be joining Texas A&M in the SEC — the nation's preeminent athletic conference — next season," Loftin said in the statement. "Like Texas A&M, Missouri is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is a great addition to the SEC in terms of academics, geography, a passionate fan base, and a well-rounded athletic program. I have had numerous conversations with Chancellor Deaton over the past several months, and I know he approached this decision deliberately and methodically as he acted in the best long-term interests of his fine institution. We are excited about what the future holds for both the Aggies and the Tigers as members of the SEC."

A&M-SEC presence already evident

October, 1, 2011
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas A&M won't be joining the SEC until next year, but the Aggies were welcomed with a brief ceremony at halftime.

Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and chancellor Dave Gearhart presented Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin and athletic director Bill Byrne with a football commemorating the Aggies' new conference membership.

The big screen at Cowboys Stadium also showed a promotional video for Texas A&M to the SEC in 2012, which was welcomed by one of the day's loudest "Whoops!" from the Aggies fans.

Big 12 headed for binding TV rights

September, 22, 2011
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Lots to get to on the blog tonight.

First off, you can read our news story on tonight's news conference at Oklahoma. Here's an update of what was decided.

More on the way later tonight.

Big 12 headed for binding TV rights

The Big 12's presidents agreed to grant their television rights to the conference for six years, Oklahoma president David Boren said at a news conference on Thursday. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton said at a news conference also on Thursday night that the agreement was not official, and the league had agreed to pursue such binds.

A source at Missouri confirmed to ESPN.com that they were told "there was no agreement, only an agreement to work toward that as a potential outcome."

The Big 12 signed a 13-year, $1.1 billion deal with Fox Sports last summer for Tier 2 rights and the Tier 1 rights for ESPN/ABC are up for renewal in five years. By signing away the media rights to the conference, any team that left the conference during that period would offer no television revenue to a prospective new league. Any television revenue produced by that team would go to the Big 12.

"We felt that we needed a lot more than an expression of solidarity," Boren said, referencing "unequivocal commitments" that held the Big 12 together in 2010, when the Big 12 last faced near extinction. "It was a very important item to show we mean business about staying together."

Boren added: "That grant of rights really has teeth in it, because when you've granted your rights, it's very unlikely that a member would receive an invitation to another conference."

Texas A&M still headed to the SEC

Tonight's agreement has had no effect on the Texas A&M and its intended departure to the SEC.

Boren said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was on the teleconference, but was careful to note that it was "highly likely" that the Aggies would continue to chart their intended course for the SEC. Boren also said the league would not give up on convincing Texas A&M to stay until the Aggies became official members of the SEC.

The league's presidents did not discuss waiving rights to legal action that would allow Texas A&M to continue with its intended move to the SEC after the conference's presidents voted to accept them on the condition that each Big 12 team waive those legal rights.

“Another key to Big 12 stability will be for the league to assist Texas A&M with our departure," Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook told the San Antonio Express-News.

New interim commissioner officially appointed

Dan Beebe is out, and Chuck Neinas is in. Neinas has dealt with scores of athletic departments around the country, and recommended more than half of the athletic directors in the Big 12 to the administrations in their current schools. Boren lauded Neinas as a figure respected around the country.

Neinas
Neinas
Neinas will take over only as interim commissioner, though. He is not a candidate for the permanent job, which may take a "few months" to fill, Boren said, though he established no concrete timeline for the hire.

"We needed someone to lead us through a healing process," Boren said of Neinas. "There's no one better to do that."

Expansion has been re-opened

While the Big 12 nearly broke apart, the efforts of an expansion committee were obviously halted. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds are on the committee, which has been re-activated.

The league doesn't know if it will expand to 10 or 12 teams, but will do its "due diligence" and is open to both.

I'd expect negotiations with BYU to be re-opened, and for the Big 12 to seriously talk with remaining teams in the Big East like West Virginia and Louisville, but also seriously talk to schools closer to the Big 12 footprint, like TCU or Houston.

Nothing's off the table yet, though. As it should be this early in the process.

Boren refused to name any names or publish any list of prospective members.

"We want anybody we look at for expansion to know they were our first choice," Boren said.

Big 12 committee formed

This is also an important development. Chairman of the board of directors Brady Deaton is putting together a "committee" to handle a variety of tasks facing the Big 12 currently.

For now, no change in revenue sharing has been enacted, but if it's going to happen, it will be explored by this committee.

Deaton is expected to put it together by the end of the day on Friday.

The league agreed not to air grievances with others in the league publicly, which is necessary for the appearance of stability. It also agreed that any disagreements would be settled privately through the multi-purpose committee that Boren called a "special working group."

Concessions by Texas and Oklahoma?

It's clear so far that Texas and Oklahoma have and are willing to give on some issues. Oklahoma got its wish with Beebe's ouster and a commitment with the media rights that would ensure stability, but Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told local media on Wednesday that he did not want to sign over media rights.

Judging by Boren's comments, that stance has softened. Maybe he was leveraged into it, or maybe it was a measure of good faith. Either way, it looked like it happened.

Oklahoma has also made it clear that it would not stand in the way of equal revenue sharing. The Sooners, as one of the Big 12's top earners, would get less money in that agreement.

"Would equal distribution mean a financial contribution for good of the conference? Yes. Would we be willing to do so? Yes," Boren said. "We would hope that wouldn’t occur overnight."

Boren said he hoped such a plan would be fazed in slowly.

As for Texas? Maybe we'll hear from them soon.

Lots more coming on the blog tonight. Stay tuned.
In a letter from Sept. 2 made public Wednesday, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said the Big 12 "and its members" were waiving legal action toward Texas A&M and the SEC.

The SEC accepted Texas A&M in a vote on Tuesday night on the condition that the Big 12 schools waived legal action toward Texas A&M and the SEC, but Beebe later said in a statement that his letter "did not and could not bind the individual member institutions’ governing boards to waive institutional rights."

In a Sept. 6 email to Slive, obtained by The Associated Press, Beebe writes: "If you seek waivers by the individual institutions, you must receive them from those institutions directly. I regret any confusion on this issue."

Which led to Wednesday's drama, in which Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas refused to waive legal rights. Now, sources told ESPN that eight schools from the Big 12 have refused to waive legal rights. Oklahoma was the only school who granted Loftin his request.

"I felt that was really a violation of trust right there," A&M president R. Bowen Loftin told the AP in an interview. "We took this letter very seriously. We asked for such a statement. They gave it to us freely. It says here unanimous vote was taken and yet when we look at Beebe's letter last night it says: 'No we didn't really mean that,' and I find that to be rather difficult to digest."

For now, A&M's move to the SEC appears imminent, but the legal action has held it up. The Aggies, as one might guess, are not pleased.

"We are being held hostage right now," Loftin said of being forced to stay in the Big 12. "Essentially, we're being told that you must stay here against your will and we think that really flies in the face of what makes us Americans for example and makes us free people."

A&M president 'disappointed' in threats

September, 7, 2011
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The most famous bow tie in Texas has spoken.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin released a statement Wednesday morning in response to an SEC statement and reports that Baylor had threatened legal action toward Texas A&M if it left for the SEC.
“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," Loftin said in the statement. "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 Sept. 2. We are working diligently to resolve any and all issues as outlined by the SEC."

The Big 12 said it waived all legal action in a letter to the SEC on Sept. 2, but that reportedly did not include individual schools. Oklahoma president David Boren admitted to reporters on Sept. 2 that Oklahoma was weighing its options regarding conference affiliation.

Will Baylor cede its suit and allow Texas A&M to go on its way? Or will this be decided in a court somewhere?

We may find out soon.

The first sign came at a word.

"Uncertainty."

When it came to Texas A&M's relationship with the Big 12, Texas and its Longhorn Network had created it.

Texas A&M's regents met on July 20 before Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin told waiting media of the uncertainty, and a day later, Loftin dialed up his good friend, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who Loftin says he'd last spoken to at the Cotton Bowl months earlier.

The league's board of directors met, and everyone appeared to be on the plane, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry let slip that the Aggies and SEC were engaging in "conversations."

But those conversations couldn't get far unless Loftin had the power to turn them into movement toward the SEC. So, on Aug. 15, the university's board of regents gave it to him.

And with that power, he decided to go for a leisurely "conference exploration."

Call it a nature hike, I suppose, full of wild boars, some new breeds of Tigers, a wild Game or two and some Gators way east.

He asked the Big 12 to let him know, if, by some chance, he wanted his university to leave, what it would take.

The Big 12 responded, and most importantly, agreed to mutual waivers of legal claims. There won't be any drawn out litigation between Texas A&M and the Big 12, regardless of who is the plaintiff and who is the defendant.

But now, with Wednesday's news that Texas A&M plans to withdraw from the Big 12 if its application to a new conference is accepted, the Aggies have taken by far the biggest leap on their road to the SEC.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe released a statement shortly after.

"The presidents and chancellors of the nine remaining member institutions are steadfast in their commitment to the Big 12. As previously stated, the conference will move forward aggressively exploring its membership options," he said.

So for now, nobody's hiding intentions and keeping a foot in both camps.

Texas A&M is ready to leave.

The Big 12 is ready to move on.

Texas A&M presumably has gotten some assurance that the necessary nine of 12 votes are accounted for to be accepted into the SEC and officially leave the Big 12.

And now, there's the issue of "exit fees," which is incoming conference revenue withheld from the university as part of the Big 12 bylaws.

Texas A&M has given less than one year's notice of withdrawal and more than six months, which means the league's bylaws state it will be subject to forfeit 90 percent of its revenue from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years.

That number is somewhere in the ballpark of $28 million to $30 million.

But there's a precedent that it may be less.

Nebraska was due to lose 80 percent of its revenue when it left the league last summer, but settled on 48 percent for a total of $9.255 million.

Could Texas A&M do the same? It's hard to see why it couldn't, but those negotiations may heat up very soon.

Or not. Nebraska announced it was leaving in June 2010. The league and school settled in September 2010.

The Aggies won't be in limbo that long, but the school says there won't be a news conference to announce a move today. A spokesman also said the focus is on game week.

Which means, for now, this could be all the public hears.

But next week?

Texas A&M is off following its Sunday night opener against SMU.

Look for an announcement during the bye week, before a Sept. 17 date with Idaho.

Until then? The wait may be painful. It might get a bit awkward.

But for Texas A&M, life is good out on the limb.
Texas A&M says it has not sent a letter of withdrawal to the Big 12 Conference.
"Contrary to media reports this morning, Texas A&M did NOT send a withdrawal letter to the Big 12 on Monday," school spokesman Jason Cook tweeted on Tuesday.

The brief statement comes a day after The New York Times said in a story posted on its website Monday night that university president R. Bowen Loftin sent a letter to Missouri chancellor and Big 12 board chairman Brady Deaton to inform the league it was leaving. The report cited two unidentified college officials with direct knowledge of the decision.
The Big 12 has responded to Texas A&M's request that it outline the requirements to exit the Big 12.

Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook confirmed to the Dallas Morning News that the university had received the letter.

In a statement, university president R. Bowen Loftin implied that movement could come soon.

That movement will likely be accelerated after the Big 12's letter featured "mutual waivers of legal claims," freeing the university from any possible lawsuits stemming from an exit.

Loftin also said that he didn't plan on the university's "conference exploration" being prolonged.

A quick clarification on Texas A&M and "exit fees," which is money withheld from schools, not money paid to the Big 12:

League bylaws would require Texas A&M to forfeit 90 percent of its revenue from the 2010-11 and the 2011-12 school years. That number is estimated at around $28 million, but last year, league bylaws allowed the league to withhold more than $19 million from Nebraska upon its departure to the Big Ten.

The Huskers later settled with the Big 12, which withheld $9.255 million in revenue.

Texas A&M officials expressed optimism previously that a similar settlement may be reached with the league.
Texas A&M announced its intention to explore its options regarding conference affiliation on Thursday.

That was followed by the school's athletic director, Bill Byrne, stating that he'd support the Aggies intention to do so.

Now, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has responded, confirming reports that the Big 12 is set on expansion should the Aggies leave, but reiterating the league's "strong desire" that the Aggies stay.

"The letter received today from Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin will be addressed by the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors," he said. "It remains our strong desire for Texas A&M to continue as a member of the Big 12 and we are working toward that end. However, if it is decided otherwise, the Conference is poised to move aggressively with options."

The league's board of directors is set to meet on Saturday.

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