Texas and Texas A&M to discuss Big 12 future

AUSTIN, Texas -- With the future of the Big 12 seemingly up for grabs, the presidents and athletic directors of Texas and Texas A&M met Thursday to discuss the future of their athletic programs after Colorado accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10 and with Nebraska weighing a move to the Big Ten.

A person briefed about the discussions said the situation was "still fluid" and the Texas schools could stay in the Big 12. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation, said everyone was waiting for Nebraska's expected announcement Friday.

If Nebraska also leaves the Big 12, other schools could follow. The Pac-10 is reportedly interested in inviting Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to form a 16-team league, while the Aggies could also head to the Southeastern Conference.

Among topics discussed was how the Big 12 could operate with fewer teams, the person said, and the consequences such as possible litigation should there be a mass exodus that could leave some teams behind.

Texas president William Powers Jr., athletic director DeLoss Dodds and women's athletic director Chris Plonsky met with Texas A&M president Bowen Loftin, athletics director Bill Byrne and other university system officials at an undisclosed location. Baylor was also represented in those discussions, but Texas Tech officials said they were not there.

U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, a Democrat from Waco, the site of Baylor, urged Texas lawmakers to immediately hold public hearings on any potential move by the schools.

"These decisions are too important to be decided solely by a small handful of people behind closed doors without public input," Edwards said.

Dodds has said he wants to keep the Big 12 together, and Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook said the talks Thursday included "several topics of mutual interest to both institutions" but that "no decisions were made or agreements reached."

During a conference call, Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott declined to comment on what other schools may be invited. Texas did not comment on Colorado's decision to leave.

"There are several different scenarios that could play out here," Scott said, adding there have been "no assurances" made to other schools and "no invitations have been issued." Scott even said the Pac-10 could add Colorado and no one else.

Baylor and Texas Tech officials have said that even if the Big 12 breaks apart, they want to remain with Texas and Texas A&M as members of the same conference. Baylor, the only private school in the Big 12, could get left behind.

"Baylor is working feverishly to keep the Big 12 together," athletic director Ian McCaw said Thursday. "It is of special importance to keep the four Big 12 schools from Texas together."

Though there is expected to be political pressure to do so, the office of Texas Gov. Rick Perry denied reports that he asked officials from the four schools to meet with him Thursday to discuss their futures. Perry is running for re-election and was scheduled to attend the state Republican convention in Dallas beginning Thursday night.

Perry spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said Perry did not have meetings with the schools.

"The governor is not involved right now, and he's not going to be involved," Nashed said.

Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers said Thursday he had not heard from the Pac-10.

"I haven't talked to the commissioner out there. We haven't done anything," Myers said.

Former Texas A&M football coach R.C. Slocum, who now works as a special adviser to Loftin, said football programs are carrying an increased financial burden to support other sports, so they're drawn to potentially massive TV contracts for more revenue.

"You look at the level of funding that all programs need to have, and it's a business decision that universities now have to make," Slocum said.

Slocum said any decision A&M makes will be based purely on its financial impact, and not on more intangible elements, like preserving traditions and rivalries.

Edwards was a state lawmaker in 1989 when he conducted public hearings on the possible breakup of the old Southwest Conference. He said the hearings slowed the process and ultimately helped Baylor and Texas Tech join them in the Big 12.

"I have seen first-hand the impact of the Texas Legislature on the issue of our universities' conferences," Edwards said. "We had a responsibility to act, we did so."


AP Sports Writers Stephen Hawkins in Fort Worth, Chris Duncan in Houston and Associated Press Writer Betsy Blaney in Lubbock contributed to this report.