Texas A&M University is officially part of the Southeastern Conference. The importance of that move can be understood when you consider Miles Marks' comments during an interview with TexAgs radio on Monday.
Marks is the president of the 12th Man Foundation. The 12th Man Foundation is the fundraising arm for Texas A&M athletics. Marks discusses how at this time last summer, everyone felt that the Aggies were going to remain in the new 10-team Big 12 Conference.
The 12th Man Foundation had been working on plans to renovate Kyle Field for around two years. Those plans would reduce the capacity of Kyle Field to under 80,000. It was not considered an issue because Aggies were not selling out Kyle Field on a consistent basis.
By the end of August 2011, with the excitement created by an expected announcement that A&M was going to leave the Big 12, the athletic department sold over 70,000 season tickets and Kyle Field was sold out for the first time since the expansion in 1999.
When football season tickets went on sale earlier this spring, the excitement over the Aggies' inaugural season in the SEC was such that they sold out within the first hour they were available to the public.
The 12th Man Foundation scrapped the old plans for renovating Kyle Field and selected Populous (a designers of sports facilities) to design a plan to redevelop or rebuild the field. What exactly will happen to Kyle Field is still up in the air. There is still a chance that an entirely new stadium will be built.
What should matter to Aggies fans is that there are no more plans to decrease the capacity of Kyle. With the incredible increase in demand for tickets, Kyle Field is going to be expanded. There will be more suites and more club seating in Kyle Field.
Aggies fans should expect to see their team playing home games in a stadium with over a 90,000-seat capacity and the best amenities that anyone could expect from a modern stadium.
This increased capacity, with more premium seats, will mean revenue increases in the tens of millions of dollars for the athletic department every year.
The increased revenue means that the Aggies will be able to hire top-notch coaches in all sports and continue to build state-of-the-art facilities for the student athletes.
The revenue is the foundation. If you have the money available, then you can build an elite athletic program.
As of today, the Aggies are bringing in a Top 10-ranked recruiting class in football. These recruits want to come to A&M to compete in the best football conference in the nation. The Aggies will continue to have success on the recruiting trail because they are the only in-state option for recruits from Texas who want to play in the SEC.
A simple change of conference affiliation has changed the perception and expectations for an athletic department.