A&M ponders a move to SEC

Florida State also may be targeted

Associated Press / August 13, 2011

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The Texas A&M System board of regents has called a special meeting Monday that includes an agenda item about conference alignment. The session comes amid growing speculation that Texas A&M is set to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

Texas A&M considered switching to the SEC last year before staying in the Big 12. The university hasn’t confirmed it is again discussing a jump to the SEC, but talk has been intensifying that the Aggies are looking to leave.

Florida State has also been mentioned as a potential new addition to the SEC. University President Eric Barron said he hasn’t had any talks about his school leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference for the SEC. Still, he didn’t say it would never happen.

Aggie Internet message boards and blogs are lighting up with chatter about such a move and several posts yesterday said that students chanted: “SEC! SEC!’’ as university President R. Bowen Loftin walked to the podium at Texas A&M commencement ceremonies.

Such a move could jeopardize the future of the Big 12 and has state legislators concerned. The Higher Education committee said commissioners Dan Beebe of the Big 12 and Mike Slive of the SEC have been invited to testify, as have Loftin and A&M system board of regents chairman Richard A. Box.

One possible reason for Texas A&M’s renewed interest in leaving the Big 12 could be because the school isn’t happy about the creation of The Longhorn Network - through a 20-year, $300 million deal with ESPN - by rival Texas.

Florida State has largely dominated the ACC in football since joining the conference two decades ago, winning a dozen league titles and two national championships since.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford said he’s heard nothing from any of the conference schools being contacted by other leagues.

“We’ll continue to be mindful of the collegiate landscape and what’s best for the ACC and its member institutions,’’ Swofford said in a statement. “With that said, I’ve received no indication from any of our 12 presidents that they have any intention of being affiliated with any conference other than the ACC.’’

Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said he was unaware of any offer to change conferences. “I have not spoken to anybody about it. We love the ACC. We love the conference we’re in.’’

Group targets BCS A group critical of the BCS is challenging the legality of a contract that calls for the Fiesta Bowl to receive more than $8 million over 20 years from an Arizona visitors bureau, and for the bowl to require teams and their affiliated groups to stay at hotels in Scottsdale and a nearby town. Playoff PAC calls this a “kickback,’’ and has filed a complaint with the attorneys general of nines states, including Connecticut, asking for investigations. Bowl officials say the accusations are off base, and that the contract is not only legal but advantageous to the schools. The PAC, which was formed to push for a college football playoff system, maintains that the contract squeezes schools by forcing them to fill a minimum number of rooms at high-end places. Fiesta Bowl chairman Duane Woods counters that the arrangement benefits schools by locking up large blocks of rooms at below-market rates . . . Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is being sued by a contractor who said he agreed to work on the coach’s home in March but was fired after he arrived early in the morning for his first day wearing a gray T-shirt with “Oklahoma’’ in red block letters. Brent Loveland said Gundy used profanity and told the contractor to get off his property. Loveland has sued Gundy in state court for more than $10,000 in damages . . . Ohio State spent more than $400,000 on PR advice and outside expertise dealing with NCAA investigations in the wake of its football program’s memorabilia-for-cash scandal, according to records.

Arkansas loses Davis Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino confirmed that running back Knile Davis is expected to miss the season because of a left ankle injury. The injury is a major blow for the Razorbacks, who were 10-3 and reached their first BCS bowl game last season. Davis was hurt during practice Thursday. He led all SEC running backs with 1,322 yards rushing last season, averaging 147 yards per game over the final seven games of the season . . . John Wiechman, a former star player at Southern Connecticut State University, was charged in a series of thefts at New Haven-area health clubs. Wiechman is from Buxton, Maine, and lives in New Haven. He was a senior running back for the Owls last season and was the Northeast 10 offensive player of the year in 2008.