Texas A&M football’s move to the Southeastern Conference next year has now become a political issue, with one state senator moving to legislatively mandate the traditional Thanksgiving football matchup against UT.
Texas State Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, announced plans to preserve the long-standing rivalry between the A&M Aggies and the UT Longhorns by introducing legislation instructing both teams to meet by law.
State Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, will sponsor the legislation to be presented during the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature, according to a press release from Sen. Williams‘s office.
“This football series began in 1894, and I don’t think it’s time to stop this rivalry,” Sen. Williams said in the press release.
“The game has served as an important family tradition for millions of Texans throughout the century, and it’s important we preserve this great tradition.”
UT men’s athletics director DeLoss Dodds said political intervention may cause scheduling problems for both schools.
“At Texas, we have contracts for three non-conference games each year that run until 2018,” Dodds said. “We also don’t know what the configuration of the Big 12 will be. We didn’t leave the conference — they did. We’ll make a decision that’s best for Texas.”
President William Powers Jr. expressed similar sentiments in an interview with The Daily Texan conducted last week.
“A&M is leaving, and that’s sad. We hate to see them go, but A&M is doing what is best for A&M,” Powers said. “They’ve been thinking about leaving since before the [Longhorn Network] started, so there is no connection.”
International relations junior Hallie Warnock said she was strongly in favor of keeping the game on Thanksgiving weekend but questioned the need for political intervention.
“They’re one of our biggest rivals after OU,” Warnock said.
“It’s one of the games you get most excited about. It’s a rivalry that’s gone on for a long time, and it’s really important to us. No matter which team is better each year, it’s such a great accomplishment to beat them. UT takes it more seriously than anyone.”
Warnock said although she believes some politics should regulate sports, mandating legislation is too intense.
Texas A&M successfully eliminated all legal barriers preventing a move into the SEC, clearing the way for it to compete in all sporting fixtures for the 2012-2013 academic years, the league announced on Sunday.
Printed Thursday, September 29, 2011 as: Senator looks to preserve rivalry by introducing bill