Sports Conference Merry-Go-Round Spins, Stops Without Change (for Now)

August 15, 2011

For about 48 hours this weekend, it appeared as if the chaos that reigns every few years when the college conferences that play big-time college sports start raiding one another's members was about to resurface. Word that Texas A&M University's Board of Regents would meet today to consider leaving the Big 12 Conference (still healing from the last round of league shifting) for the Southeastern Conference brought condemnation from Big 12 officials who viewed Texas A&M as breaking a commitment and from commentators who said it possible upheaval showed that no one is in control in college football. The prospective move by Texas A&M to become the Southeastern league's 13th member was seen as a precursor to the SEC raiding other conferences for a 14th member (if not 15th and 16th members), causing yet another round of money-fueled competition aimed at attracting bigger television contracts.

Sunday afternoon, though, the SEC's presidents announced that they would not look to add any additional members -- at least not right now. “The SEC presidents and chancellors met today and reaffirmed our satisfaction with the present 12 institutional alignment,” said Bernie Machen, president of the University of Florida and chairman of the league's presidents. “We recognize, however, that future conditions may make it advantageous to expand the number of institutions in the league. We discussed criteria and process associated with expansion.”

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