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Texas A&M regents vote 8-1 in favor of SEC expansion
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Texas A&M regents vote 8-1 in favor of SEC expansion

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Board of Regents

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents met Wednesday in the Bethancourt Ballroom on campus to discuss Southeastern Conference expansion.

The Texas A&M System Board of Regents voted 8-1 on Wednesday in support of a statement guiding Texas A&M President Katherine Banks to vote in favor of Southeastern Conference expansion.

“The Board concluded that this expansion would enhance the long-term value of the SEC to student-athletes and all of the institutions they represent — including Texas A&M,” the statement read. “Therefore, the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents directs Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks to vote in favor of extending formal invitations to the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas to join the conference in 2025, when the SEC presidents consider the matter.”

Regent Mike Hernandez III, of Fort Worth, cast the only opposing vote to the statement in favor of Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC. Regents and those who participated in the meeting left a back door of the ballroom without fielding questions.

Conference presidents will meet Thursday in a previously scheduled meeting with a vote for expansion possible. Texas and Oklahoma will need a three-fourths vote to secure an invitation, which would be 11 members.

On Monday, Texas and Oklahoma issued a joint statement to the Big 12 Conference, informing it that they would not extend their grant of media rights past 2025. The Big 12’s television contract with ESPN and Fox expires in 2025.

The pair of schools followed the action by requesting invitation to the SEC on Tuesday.

News of Texas and Oklahoma’s intention to depart the Big 12 in favor of the SEC broke July 21, while A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and players were at SEC Media Days. At that time, Bjork said A&M intended on continuing to be the only SEC school in the state of Texas.

Three days later, both Bjork and Banks said A&M would compete against anyone the SEC should invite to membership.

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“Whoever joins the SEC, whether that’s now, in the future, whatever the NCAA landscape looks like, whatever conference realignment looks like, the 12th Man’s ready,” Bjork told The Eagle on Saturday. “Our coaches are ready. Our staff’s ready. Our student-athletes are ready. The university is ready to compete at the highest level.”

Nine of the 10 regents were present at the Bethancourt Ballroom of the Memorial Student Center on A&M’s campus for Wednesday’s discussion. Student regent Matilin Rigsby was not present.

Meeting with the regents was System Chancellor John Sharp, Vice Chancellor Billy Hamilton, Banks, Bjork as well as general counsel members Ray Bonilla and Brooks Moore. Norman Garza, vice president of government relations, was also in the meeting room.

All 10 regents met by telephone Monday with Sharp, Hamilton, Banks, Bjork and counsel in what was described as an informational meeting. Wednesday’s in-person meeting was announced after the call.

Information was provided to the regents during the more than two-hour executive session by Bjork and Banks after the pair participated in meetings Tuesday and Wednesday with the office of SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, the statement said. The regents said they were not pleased with the way possible expansion was communicated.

“We have the utmost confidence in Texas A&M President M. Katherine Banks and athletics director Ross Bjork to navigate discussions with our SEC conference partners,” the statement said. “Although the Board has concerns about the communication process relating to this matter, today the Board received the information it needed to properly consider the long-term ramifications of a possible expansion.”

Before the regents finished Wednesday’s executive session, Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger reported that the Big 12 had sent a cease and desist letter to ESPN, demanding the television network from interfering with its conference membership and possible realignment.

“The Big 12 Conference reserves and will enforce all of its rights under the Grant of Rights Agreement and the Telecast Agreement to the full extent of the law and will not allow its business to be interfered with by its business partners or others,” the letter said, according to Dellenger.

The regents said in the statement they will continue to monitor discussions of conference realignment.

“As developments unfold, the leadership at Texas A&M will continue to analyze our opportunities and make decisions based on what’s best for our flagship university.”

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