Sports

September 8, 2011

Oklahoma holds key to future for Texas A&M, Big 12

No lawsuits if the Sooners stay.

Baylor and other Big 12 schools have used the possibility of legal action to block Texas A&M's bid to join the Southeastern Conference, at least for now.

But don't expect any lawsuits to be filed.

Instead, consider this the first step in a bargaining session aimed at trying to convince Oklahoma officials about the merits of remaining part of a nine-team nucleus in an expanded Big 12 rather than leading Oklahoma State, and possibly others, to the Pac-12.

A&M cannot join the SEC unless all Big 12 schools waive their rights to legal claims involved with the move. But the A&M/SEC stalemate could be broken if schools that retained their legal rights during Wednesday's conference call (Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas) wound up waiving those rights in exchange for a long-term commitment to the Big 12 from Oklahoma, the school that controls the league's future after Friday's announcement that it would explore other conference options.

If Oklahoma won't commit, the league is dead anyway. If OU stays and the Big 12 expands, then Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas remain in a BCS conference. Huge upside, minimal risk. Savvy legal strategy for schools in a desperate situation.

A Big 12 source confirmed Thursday that Baylor has indicated it will not waive its legal rights as long as there is instability in the Big 12. The source said there is "potential" for altering existing league policies in regard to revenue sharing in efforts to lure expansion candidates.

Most conferences share league TV revenues equally among members. The Big 12 does not.

An A&M spokesman said Thursday there has been "no change" in the school's limbo status in regard to joining the SEC.

SEC officials have indicated there is no deadline, at this juncture, about when A&M must be accepted in order to compete in the league for the 2012 football season.

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