Texas A&M officials received a letter Monday from Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, outlining withdrawal procedures under league bylaws and mutual waivers of legal claims.
The letter, received in response to A&M's request for withdrawal procedures, should help expedite the Aggies' apparent move to the Southeastern Conference because of the mutual waiver of legal claims.
In a statement, A&M President R. Bowen Loftin stressed that it is "not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time." Sources at A&M and the Big 12 have suggested that an announcement could occur by week's end
Before applying for SEC membership, A&M must officially withdraw from the Big 12. The school did not take that step Monday. But could do so as early as today. A source with knowledge of the situation said: "All parties have a desire to move quickly."
Through a Big 12 spokesman, Beebe declined comment about the letter he sent to A&M. An A&M source said Beebe's letter did not address the possibility of a negotiated settlement in regard to how much money A&M must forfeit to begin competing in the SEC by the 2012 football season.
League sources have indicated a negotiated figure could approach $20 million, lower than the $28 million spelled out under league bylaws. A&M hopes to drop that total, citing the example of Nebraska, which paid $9.25 million based on projected revenues of $19.37 million to depart after 2010-11.
In Monday's statement, Loftin said: "I certainly appreciate the discussion among the Big 12 presidents/chancellors and the expression of their desire for Texas A&M to remain in the conference. We all agree that Texas A&M is an extremely valuable institution; thus, it is incumbent upon me, as the president of the university, to ensure that we are in a position to enhance our national visibility and future financial opportunity. While this is a complex and long-term decision, it is not our intent to prolong our conference exploration for an extended period of time."
A&M's departure would trigger Big 12 expansion efforts, with Notre Dame a possible target. But in a Monday interview with the Austin American Statesman, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the school's "clear priority is maintaining our football independence and continuing to build our relationship with the Big East with our other sports."