Q&A with President Loftin Regarding the Big 12 Conference
Last night I was able to spend some time going through the hundreds of emails I have received over the past couple of days, as well as reading many of your Facebook posts. I would like to address three major questions that I have determined are common themes:
Question: Why did Texas A&M elect to stay with the Big 12, especially when so many students want to go to the SEC?
“The conference realignment issue was not of our making, but my duty was to do the right thing — ensure that our student-athletes are treated fairly and that we have the resources to support a first-class, nationally-recognized athletic program. Also, the Board of Regents requested that I present them with options, which, as you know, I did in talking to both the SEC and Pac-10.
From day one, Athletic Director Bill Byrne and I publicly said that we wanted the Big 12 to remain intact if it continued to be a viable option for us. There were some days and hours in which we weren’t sure that would be the case. I can tell you that we had serious discussions with both the SEC and the Pac-10, and both conferences wanted Texas A&M.
Concurrently, I was going through an exhaustive process in evaluating our three options based on 21 factors. As the weekend concluded and we entered into Monday, however, the TV networks stepped up and indicated they would invest significantly in the 10 remaining members of the Big 12. And the Big 12 made a significant financial commitment to keep Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas in the conference. At the end of the day, we kept our word, which as an Aggie, is extremely important.
Part of my leadership style is in listening, and in this case, there were many groups who were giving me their opinions. We wanted to approach our options very deliberately, so we could slow the process down and gather input. Many of our students were extremely vocal in their support of the SEC, and I appreciate their passion – it’s the same passion of the 12th Man that we see at Kyle Field on Saturdays in the fall. And believe me, I was listening. But there were also many students and other Texas A&M constituents in support of the Big 12, and that ultimately proved to be the best option for us at this time.
I simply ask that all of our Aggie Family take a deep breath and consider the outcomes of this decision. Texas A&M now has financial parity for the first time with the other two major Big 12 athletic programs in terms of revenue and the opportunity to use our brand to Texas A&M’s best advantage. Our student-athletes will also benefit, and we have preserved many traditional rivalries that we treasure.”
Question: There have been several reports that there is not a new signed Big 12 TV contract. How certain are you that it will actually happen and Texas A&M will receive more revenues than the other conferences offered?
“I spoke with the Big 12 Commissioner late Sunday evening and also conferenced him in to our Monday afternoon meeting. It is true that a signed TV contract is not yet in place.
However, the basic terms of a new Big 12 agreement (beginning in 2011) are in place and are in sufficient detail to give us confidence that we know the “floor” of our next agreement. It was on this basis that we, and other Big 12 institutions, were able to make a decision late Monday afternoon. As in negotiations of this nature, we will receive more details as the talks continue.”
Question: Texas is taking a lot of credit for saving the Big 12 Conference. Did we stand on the sidelines?
“I don’t think any one university can take credit for saving the Big 12 Conference. It was a collective commitment by the remaining 10 members of the conference. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Texas President Bill Powers is also chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors, which includes all of the university presidents and the Big 12’s executive team.
It’s a position that rotates around to all of the Big 12 presidents. But don’t think for a minute that Texas A&M was idle during this situation. We acted independently and were very aggressive in exploring options and protecting our long-term interests.
A lot of the media reports are starting to report about the strength of our position during the entire situation. Texas A&M played a key role in ultimately increasing the financial viability of the Big 12. I think the facts support this claim – Texas A&M is poised to benefit just as much financially from the Big 12 as Texas or Oklahoma.”
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