1. Why did Texas A&M move to another conference at this time?
Texas A&M considers this to be a 100-year decision, and one that was not made lightly. In many ways, this is the next logical step in the university's ongoing growth and development since it was transformed from an all-male, military college to a major research university beginning in the 1960s. As a national university, Texas A&M deserves an athletic conference that will provide the most national exposure for the institution and its student-athletes.
2. What was the process for making the decision to join the SEC?
The process began in late spring 2010, when the departure of the University of Nebraska for the Big Ten and the University of Colorado to the PAC-10 made the Big 12 Conference considerably less stable.
At that time, Texas A&M began a strategic and comprehensive analysis of the different conference options, and determined that the SEC provided the best long-term fit in terms of athletics and institutional history and culture, as well as future stability.
When issues arose in 2011 that further undermined the stability of the Big 12, President Loftin resumed internal discussions about conference alignment that led to a telephone call on July 21 to SEC Commissioner Slive to initiate the conversation about joining the SEC.
On August 25, President Loftin notified the Big 12 that Texas A&M would "explore all conference options" and requested information regarding exit procedures and early termination fees. On September 2, the Big 12 sent notification that the SEC was free to accept Texas A&M as a new member. On September 5, the SEC received an application letter from Texas A&M. On September 25, the SEC presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to unconditionally accept the Aggies as the 13th member and only the third new member in the conference's 78-year history.
All parties involved expected the process to take several weeks, and as indicated under the previous question, this is a 100-year decision. The SEC is a very collegial organization that moves forward only after obtaining a consensus from its chancellors and presidents.
Meanwhile, some externally driven issues had to be resolved. Ultimately, when Oklahoma decided to stay in the Big 12 instead of moving to the Pac-12, thus ensuring the Big 12's future, the SEC was prepared to move ahead with accepting Texas A&M's application.
3. How will this affect Texas A&M's historic rivalry with the Longhorns?
The SEC has a long history of encouraging cross-conference rivalries such as those between Florida and Florida State, Clemson and South Carolina, and Georgia Tech and Georgia.
President Loftin and Texas A&M Athletics Director Bill Byrne have repeatedly made it clear that Texas A&M would like to continue its rivalry against the University of Texas, which began in 1894, and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has said that he favors continuing the traditional Aggie-Longhorn game around Thanksgiving.
In addition, Bill Byrne has stated that he would like to continue the Lone Star Showdown between Texas A&M and the University of Texas that compares the universities' records in all varsity sports, which he introduced about eight years ago.
4. The Aggie War Hymn mentions the University of Texas. Will the lyrics be changed?
Many traditions at Texas A&M involve rivalries or historical artifacts that are obsolete today. For example, "gig 'em" refers to the TCU horned frogs, and the vast majority of Aggies today are not farmers, although the "Farmers Fight" yell is still popular.
The second verse of the Aggie War Hymn, which is the one most often sung, refers to "texas university" while the first does not. (Lyrics can be found here: http://tx.ag/rc55ay.) Student leaders are in the process of determining whether to switch to the first verse, continue with the second verse, or sing both.
5. What about the historic rivalries with other universities in Texas?
Texas A&M believes that it will be very feasible to continue playing traditional rivals such as Texas Tech and Baylor in sports besides football. Scheduling football games annually with Texas Tech and Baylor would be difficult given the limited number of non-conference games for each
6. Will there be a buyout with the Big 12?
Texas A&M seeks to quickly and amicably resolve the issue of early termination fees, in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Big 12 bylaws, although the precise timetable for negotiations and figure are not yet known. President Loftin has indicated that neither state appropriations nor the university's academic allocations will be used to address any withdrawal scenarios.
7. What role, if any, did the Longhorn Network play in this process?
From the beginning, the process was driven by what best serves the long-term interests of Texas A&M and its student-athletes. Institutional visibility, conference stability and equality among conference members were the most important considerations.
8. What about the future of the Big 12?
President Loftin has said that he believes the Big 12 "has every opportunity to try to move in a direction that will give it stability and a great, bright future." Texas A&M is working diligently to exit the Big 12 as quickly and amicably as possible, which will allow the Big 12 to recruit a replacement member.
9. Why is the SEC the best choice for Texas A&M?
The SEC provides Texas A&M with national visibility, as well as greater financial opportunity and conference stability.
Like Texas A&M, eight of the 12 current SEC member institutions owe their origins to the Morrill Act of 1862, which revolutionized higher education through the creation of land-grant universities. And, like Texas A&M, SEC members have achieved national and international prominence. For example, two universities – Vanderbilt University and the University of Florida – are members, with Texas A&M, in the elite Association of American Universities, which has just 61 members in the United States and Canada.
Our counterparts in the SEC are much like Texas A&M in other fundamental ways as well: they celebrate their rich histories and perpetuate their unique traditions, they are passionate on the playing field and in the stands, and they are united in their commitment to instilling core values that will prepare future generations of leaders for our nation and world.
Finally, the SEC provides a national platform for its member institutions. As a member of the Big 12, only two or three Aggie football games reach a national audience each year. In the SEC, nearly all Aggie football games will be broadcast nationally via CBS or ESPN, and other varsity sports will have increased visibility as well.
10. Why is it important for Texas A&M to be a national brand with a national platform?
Athletics serves as the "front porch" introduction to Texas A&M for the millions of people around the nation and world who are not familiar with the university. By creating a favorable impression, we strengthen the university's reputation.
Strengthening our brand also bolsters the rich culture and traditions that set Aggies apart. Texas A&M has sponsorships or partnerships with numerous major corporations, including Pepsi, Barnes & Noble, Gatorade, Adidas, Chevron, Tony Roma's and HEB, among others.
These arrangements generate millions of dollars in sponsorship and licensing revenues for Texas A&M, much of which stays on campus in direct support of academic and student leadership development programs.
11. Will being in the SEC benefit Texas A&M's athletic program?
Competing in the nation's premiere athletic conference will strengthen all intercollegiate sports at Texas A&M, as reflected in the Learfield Sports Directors Cup standings, which are based on a university's overall athletic program. In 2011, Texas A&M placed first in the Big 12 and eighth in the nation in the Directors Cup.
Being in the SEC also will significantly benefit our ability to recruit top student-athletes. Texas has about 4,000 high schools, and many of high school athletes aspire to play professionally. They look east and see the great teams, great competitions and great futures for the student-athletes there, and now they have the added advantage of being able to stay in Texas for their collegiate experience as well.
12. Does the conference issue have any bearing on the proposed renovation of Kyle Field?
Not directly. Work is expected to begin no sooner than 2013 as we take time to figure out the right plan for Kyle Field – parts of which are nearly a century old – that will provide the amenities that today's fans and student-athletes expect, maximize revenues and best enable the Aggies to win championships.
13. Will Texas A&M continue to play Arkansas in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex after 2011?
Having a presence in the Metroplex is important to Texas A&M, but this decision will be made jointly with representatives from the University of Arkansas.
14. What role did academics play in this decision?
While academics are important – and the SEC is strong academically, with Vanderbilt and the University of Florida members joining Texas A&M in the prestigious Association of American Universities – this was not a primary consideration.
Many institutions that are ranked higher than Texas A&M academically compete in smaller athletic conferences. For example, Rice University, one of the country's most prestigious private institutions, competes in Conference USA.
15. LSU is the only SEC school within 500 miles of College Station. Are there concerns about players and fans having to travel these distances for games?
Distance was an important consideration in the decision to join the SEC, just as travel to Nebraska and Colorado was a consideration earlier in the Big 12. Furthermore, with the Big 12's new round-robin scheduling format, Texas A&M would be making more frequent trips to Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas, which are a comparable distance to the SEC's easternmost schools.
Texas A&M is confident that fans – including the nearly 16,000 former students who live in the nine SEC states – will travel for games as rivalries with LSU and Arkansas are rekindled and as new rivalries develop.
16. When will the SEC add a fourteenth team to facilitate scheduling?
SEC Commissioner Slive has said repeatedly that this decision has been exclusively about Texas A&M and that the SEC has not approached, or been approached by, any other prospective members. While scheduling games between an odd number of teams will not be easy, the SEC expects to complete the 2012-13 academic year with 13 teams.
17. Did the SEC renegotiate television contracts as a result of adding Texas A&M?
The SEC's TV agreements have two components: the standard agreements that deal with conference composition and how to accommodate the gain or loss of a member, and what ESPN calls "look-ins" – periodic reviews as fact0rs such as technology change over time – during its 15-year contract.
Texas A&M has been assured that it will be a full-standing member of the SEC next season. As a point of comparison, SEC members received $18.3 million from the conference last year, while Texas A&M netted a little over $11 million from the Big 12.
Commissioner Slive has said that the conference will "sit down and make sure that at the end of the day, given the composition of our league, we have exactly what we bargained for when we started." He also said that the conference expects to begin negotiations with CBS beginning in fall 2011.
18. How does the SEC structure revenue sharing and third-tier rights?
The SEC distributes revenue from its conference package equally, not considering some very minor appearance fees. For the most part, all SEC institutions get the same amount of money from the SEC package.
In terms of third-tier rights, all SEC football games belong to the conference package, except one pay‑per‑view opportunity that is provided for each member institution annually. The current package involves CBS, the ESPN platforms (ESPN, ESPN‑2 and ESPNU), and an SEC Network game that reaches about 73 million homes as ESPN's third most widely distributed Saturday platform. In addition, there are cable packages with Comcast and FOX. All SEC games, except the occasional pay‑per‑view, go into that.
In men's basketball, all conference games are televised through the conference. Many non‑conference games – games that are not televised through the conference TV package – are available for institutions in their local packages.
This structure allows institutions to monetize their local package at a very considerable level and was one reason why the SEC elected to forego the concept of a channel in favor of the ability to become nationally distributed and to preserve local rights to member institutions.
19. Will the addition of Texas A&M cause the SEC to add another bowl game to its tie-ins?
Commissioner Slive has said that this is something the conference will consider. The conference has nine now, and has sent two up.
20. What have coaches from other SEC schools said about Texas A&M joining the conference?
Representative comments are from Bobby Petrino of the University of Arkansas, who said, "We're excited that they are coming into the conference. I think that's good for us. It's good for our recruiting," and John Calipari of the University of Kentucky, who said, "Texas A&M is a great school academically, has a well-run athletic department and will fit well. Their fan base is ridiculous, just like all of us. The SEC is different. The SEC is about schools with strong fan bases and geography. We want the markets. There is no buyout in the SEC because no one wants to leave."
21. Are co-branded SEC-Texas A&M items available for sale?
Merchandise is available at select retailers, including the Memorial Student Center bookstore: http:aggielocker.com/.
22. Are videos of the September 26 campus celebration available?
Video clips and a transcript of the press conference can be found at http://tx.ag/ny6quq. In addition, the "There's A Spirit" video that was shown at the beginning of the event can be seen at http://tx.ag/bmynnf.
23. Where can I learn more about the SEC?
The SEC's website is here: http://tx.ag/rctdz1.