Texas A&M took one more step closer to joining the SEC Wednesday when it notified the Big 12 that it plans to apply for membership to a new conference.
If Texas A&M is accepted by a new conference, the school will end its membership with the Big 12 on June 30, 2012.
Presumably, the SEC is A&M's desired location, and the announcement comes after conversations between Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin and SEC commissioner Mike Slive that began on July 21, which was the day after a meeting of the Texas A&M board of regents.
However, as of Wednesday, the SEC had not received an application from Texas A&M to join the league and the league had no further comment on the situation.
Here is what SEC bylaw 3.1.2 says about granting membership to outside schools:
Membership may be granted by invitation of the Conference at a regular or called meeting. A three-fourths vote of members is required to extend an invitation for membership.
That means that a meeting of SEC presidents and chancellors has to occur and the school seeking admission (in this case it would be Texas A&M) would have to receive nine of the 12 votes in order to join.
First, Texas A&M has to send the SEC an application and the vote has to take place before the Aggies can join the conference.
Bringing Texas A&M into the SEC would benefit both parties. Loftin said he wants to see Texas A&M end up in a conference that will "generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs."
Yeah, the SEC can certainly do that.
Those attractive TV contracts will help with the visibility and finances shouldn't be a problem with the SEC distributing a record $220 million among its 12 member institutions this year. If you're keeping count at home, that's an average of $18.3 million per school. That is a 5.3 percent increase from the $209.0 million distributed to the schools in 2009-2010.
Obviously, adding another team will cut into that individual numbers for schools, but I doubt SEC members would agree to add another team without being assured they'll make as much as they made in the past each year. That could mean renegotiating TV contracts or pulling from a reserve, which is no doubt deep.
The move would also benefit Texas A&M in recruiting. Aggies coaches could tell recruits they'll be playing in the country's best conference and Texas A&M can stretch into that very wealthy southeastern talent pool.
For the SEC, this would mean tapping into the Texas markets, getting the Dallas and Houston area, which means more people in front of TV sets ... and more money.
It also means SEC schools can dip into the Texas recruiting market, which SEC coaches have said would be a welcomed addition to their recruiting maps.
"We do recruit a little bit over there, so it's not going to hurt us ... having a footprint, especially in that Houston area and I guess the whole state," Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said.
Texas A&M is looking to join in time to play football in 2012. But will that happen? Well, we aren't sure.
The thing that could hold up the Aggies is finding a 14th team. The SEC wouldn't comment on the league making sure it had a 14th team interested in joining before selecting a 13th.
Really, the SEC could go both ways on this. If you wait, you get an even number of teams, and redoing divisions can be easier. If you strike now and have just 13 in 2012, things would be fine, but it would feel a bit awkward for that year.
All I can say is stay tuned ...