Conference Realignment: Texas A&M Officially Will Join SEC in 2012

Eli MargerCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 24:  A general view of Kyle Field on September 24, 2011 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

A move that has been talked about for months has finally become official, as Sunday the Southeastern Conference announced that Texas A&M will become the 13th member of the prestigious conference.

The SEC, which has not expanded since the 1991 addition of Arkansas and South Carolina, welcomed the Aggies after the process of realignment had been halted by threats of legal action from several Big 12 schools.

Bernie Machen, president of the University of Florida and chairman of the SEC presidents and chancellors, said, "“The addition of Texas A&M University as the SEC’s 13th member gives our league a prestigious academic institution with a strong athletic tradition and a culture similar to our current institutions."

A&M, which currently is ranked, ironically, at No. 13 in the most recent AP Top 25 poll, will presumably join the SEC West along with Arkansas, LSU, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Auburn and Alabama.

With the move, the Big 12 conference will be left with just nine teams, leaving its future in doubt. There have been rumors of Texas and Oklahoma potentially leaving, although any talk at this point is presumed to be just a rumor.

But after weeks and weeks of talks about a potential move for Texas A&M, Sunday's announcement could serve as the first domino to fall, leading to a potentially landscape-changing set of moves. The SEC, already considered to be one of the strongest overall athletic conferences in the NCAA, will add a team that is starting its rise to national prominence in football.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin called it a "100-year decision" to provide his school "the national visibility that our great university and our student-athletes deserve."

The Aggies will officially join the SEC on July 1st of 2012 and will become active members of the conference for the 2012-13 academic year. That means that next season, Texas A&M will have a schedule that includes the likes of Alabama, LSU and other SEC powerhouses.

The attention now turns to who will become the 14th SEC team, a move assumed to happen in order to balance the conference's divisions. Rumored schools include Clemson, Missouri and Florida State.