If Texas A&M does ultimately move from the Big 12 to the SEC, new men's basketball coach Billy Kennedy would certainly be in his comfort zone.
Kennedy, who took over the Aggies in May after Mark Turgeon left for Maryland, is from Metaire, La., worked at New Orleans, Northwestern State and Tulane and was a head coach at Southeastern Louisiana and Centenary -- all within the Louisiana footprint of the SEC. And he arrived in College Station after five seasons at Murray State, which is also situated in SEC country.
“It’s premature to talk about it, but I’m more familiar with the SEC since most of my players have been from Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama,’’ said Kennedy by phone from Paris, where A&M is in the midst of a four-game European tour. The Aggies, one of the favorites to win a wide-open Big 12 this season, lost the first two games of the tour to the Swiss national team but then beat a professional team from France before facing another one Tuesday to conclude the trip.
“It’s a totally different deal in the SEC. It's a more athletic league while the Big 12 is much more of a power conference with size and skill,’’ Kennedy said. “It’s a little different.’’
Kennedy said he had no idea where the Aggies were eventually headed and said an email has gone out to the university's coaches that any specific discussion about the school's potential move to the SEC must go through the president’s office.
A source close to the situation did say Monday that the boosters traveling with the basketball program were expecting the SEC to accept the Aggies immediately and initially were taken aback by the SEC tabling a vote on Sunday. But then, according to the source, the anxious boosters were made aware that this is just a process and there was still growing optimism that the school will end up in the SEC once the legal maneuvering works itself out.
Texas A&M has to initiate the first move on a departure and then if the SEC wants to expand, it would likely need to add a 14th member, which might have to come from outside of the current SEC footprint to appease current members such as Florida (no to FSU), South Carolina (no to Clemson) and Georgia (no to Georgia Tech). One source said the SEC had an interest in North Carolina, but it's widely assumed the Tar Heels wouldn’t leave the ACC and its relationship with neighboring Duke and NC State.
The source said that the Aggies’ fortunes have been on a whirlwind for a week from never thinking the SEC was possible, to assuming it was done, to know being in a bit of a holding pattern.
On Monday afternoon, it was announced that a state congressional hearing in the Texas House that was set for Tuesday has been postponed. According to an economic and financial analysis firm study that was to be provided to House committee members at the meeting, if Texas A&M leaves the Big 12 but the conference remains intact, the decrease in business activity in the state would include losses of $217.2 million in gross output each year and 3,050 jobs. According to The Perryman Group, if the Big 12 were to eventually dissolve, 8,329 jobs would be lost and loss in total spending would top $1 billion.
The timing of Texas A&M’s notice would also affect its exit fee. The shorter the number of months or years given for the exit affects the amount of money the Aggies would owe. So if they want to get out of the Big 12 for 2012, it would cost more than if they want to do it for 2013.
Here is the exact wording from the Big 12 handbook:
3.1 Membership. Each Member Institution shall remain a member of the Conference until July 1, 2006 (the “Current Term”) and during any Additional Term (as defined
below). Unless a Member Institution gives written notice that it will withdraw from the Conference at the end of the Current Term or the then-current Additional Term to all other Member Institutions and the Conference (a “Notice”) not less than two (2) years before the end of the Current Term or the then-current Additional Term, as the case may be, each Member Institution shall remain a member of the Conference for an additional five-year period after the end of the Current Term or the then-current Additional Term, as the case may be (each, an “Additional Term”) unless such member is a Breaching Member. Each Member Institution agrees that in the event such Member desires to withdraw from the Conference, that it will in good faith give Notice not less than two (2) years before the end of the Current Term or any Additional Term, as the case may be. No Member Institution shall be entitled to distribution of the then-current revenues from the Conference after the effective date of its withdrawal, resignation, or the cessation of its participation in the Conference (the “Effective Date”).
3.2 Effect of Giving Notice. If a Member Institution gives proper Notice pursuant to Section 3.1 (a “Withdrawing Member”), then the Members agree that such withdrawal would cause financial hardship to the remaining Member Institutions of the Conference, and that the financial consequences cannot be measured or estimated with certainty at this time. Therefore, in recognition of the obligations and responsibilities of each Member Institution to all other Member Institutions of the Conference, each Member Institution agrees that the amount of revenue that would have been otherwise distributable to a Withdrawing Member pursuant to Section 2 herein for the final two (2) years of the Current Term or the then current Additional Term, as the case may be, shall be reduced by fifty percent (50%), with the remainder to be distributed to the other Member Institutions who are not Withdrawing Members or Breaching Members (as defined below) as additional Conference revenues in accordance with Section 2 herein. The Member Institutions agree that such reduction in the amount of revenues distributed to a Withdrawing Member is reasonable and shall be in the form of liquidated damages and not be construed as a penalty.
3.3 Effect of Withdrawal From Conference Other Than by Giving Proper Notice. If, other than by giving a proper Notice pursuant to Section 3.1, a Member Institution (a “Breaching Member”) withdraws, resigns, or otherwise ceases to participate as a full Member Institution in full compliance with these Rules, or gives notice or otherwise states its intent to so withdraw, resign, or cease to participate in the future (a “Breach”), then the Member Institutions agree that such Breach would cause financial hardship to the remaining Member Institutions of the Conference, and that the financial consequences cannot be measured or estimated with certainty at this time. Therefore, in recognition of the obligations and responsibilities of each Member Institution to all other Member Institutions of the Conference, each Member Institution agrees that after such Breach, the amount of Conference revenue that would otherwise have been distributed or distributable to the Breaching Member during the two (2) years prior to the end of the Current Term or the then-current Additional Term, as the case may be, shall be reduced by an amount that equals the sum of the aggregate of such revenues times the following percentages (such sum being the “Aggregate Reduction”); if Notice is received less than two years but on or before eighteen months prior to the Effective Date, 70%; if Notice is received less than eighteen months but on or before twelve months prior to the Effective Date, 80%; if Notice is received less than twelve months but on or before six months prior to the Effective Date, 90%; or if Notice is received less than six months prior to the Effective Date, 100%.
After such Breach, none of the revenues that otherwise would be distributable to a Breaching Member shall be paid to the Breaching Member until the aggregate amount so withheld (the “Withheld Amounts”) equals the Aggregate Reduction; thereafter, all revenues that would otherwise have been distributable to the Breaching Member shall be so distributed. If the Withheld Amounts are less than the Aggregate Reduction, then the Member Institutions acknowledge and agree that the Conference shall assess such Breaching Member an amount that equals the difference of the Aggregate Reduction less the Withheld Amounts, and the Breaching Member agrees that on or prior to the Effective Date it shall repay to the Conference such amount from revenue that previously had been distributed to such Breaching Member. The Withheld Amounts and any such repayment of the difference of the Aggregate Reduction less the Withheld Amounts shall be distributed to the other Member Institutions who are not Withdrawing Members or Breaching Members as additional Conference revenues in accordance with Section 2 herein. The Member Institutions agree that such reduction in the distribution of revenues to a Breaching Member is reasonable and shall be in the form of liquidated damages and not be construed as a penalty.