It's official -- the Texas A&M Board of Regents has unanimously voted to give university president Bowen Loftin the power to move the school in the Southeastern Conference. But Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said Monday that he doesn't expect his alma mater, Texas A&M, to join the SEC.
"I think the SEC said they were happy with 12 (schools)," Perry said, speaking with reporters in Iowa. "So I don't think anybody is going to be going anywhere.
"But that's their call," said Perry, according to USA Today. "That's how the process works."
SEC officials met Sunday and reaffirmed satisfaction with their 12-school format. But many observers think that was just political posturing, since Loftin subsequently obtained authorization from the school's board of regents to handle all matters concerning conference alignment -- granting the authority to move Texas A&M into the SEC.
The regents voted in College Station Texas on Monday to give Loftin the authority to leave the Big 12 Conference, according to the UPI.com. The SEC has emerged in the era of the BCS football championship as a money-generating, big-school athletic powerhouse conference.
Talk of Texas A&M joining the SEC has been one of the hottest topics in sports in the past week, with message boards lighting up amid the talk from Florida to Texas and beyond.
"It's not so much what's wrong with the Big 12," Loftin said, in The Dallas Morning News. "It's what's right for Texas A&M."
The SEC has won five consecutive BCS championships and has one of the biggest television deals in the NCAA. Loftin told the newspaper he began talks with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive last month and hasn't had contact with other conferences
In 2010, athletics revenues from SEC schools totaled more than $1 billion, making the conference the first in America to cross the $1 billion mark in revenue in one year. The SEC signed a 15-year deal with CBS and ESPN worth $3 billion that year. That was a big jump from 2003, when the SEC earned roughly $200 million in total revenues.
Should Texas A&M leave the Big 12, the move could set off a ripple effect of other teams leaving that could impact other conferences as well. Particularly, the SEC would likely add another team to balance out the addition of Texas A&M. The league, which currently has 12 members, would likely add Texas A&M to its West division, while seeking another team, such as the ACC's Florida State or Virginia Tech, for its East division.
Also, the Big 12 has already lost Nebraska and Colorado to other conferences -- Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac 12 -- and losing Texas A&M could likely cause other Big 12 powerhouse football schools including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri to explore other options.