R. Bowen Loftin

Texas A&M president announces he is stepping down

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin has announced to faculty that he will step down from his position in January 2014.

Loftin notifed university leaders on Friday that he will be stepping down from the position to start and lead a new instutite in Texas A&M's engineering department.

Loftin, who was president during A&M's departure from the Big 12 and entrance to the SEC, said in a statement he is looking forward to returning to teaching.

In a statement, the university said A&M Chancellor John Sharp will launch a national search for the new president immediately.

Follow Bobby Blanchard on Twitter @bobbycblanchard. 

Fans watch the Texas vs. A&M game on Nov. 25, 2010. The game will most likely be one of last as conference rivals. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Erika Rich | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: With the Wednesday announcement that Texas A&M had officially sent in a letter of withdrawal from the Big 12 Conference, there would be no better opinion to gauge than that of Adrian O’Hanlon III, the sports editor of A&M’s school paper, The Battalion.

The breakup is official as Texas A&M notified the Big 12 Conference of its intention to join another athletic conference Wednesday.

What a historic turning point in the relationship between A&M and Texas. For centuries, our fans and alumni have bantered back and forth, arguing which school has a more prestigious academic program, a more successful athletic program and who best represents the state of Texas.

Longhorns and Aggies will riot without the Texas showdown, so officials would be smart to sign off on a contract. A&M agreed to renew its rivalry with Arkansas to play in the annual Southwest Classic at Jerry’s World, and fans of both schools will plan well in advance to make the trip. The bottom line: The two schools will reach an agreement to play a non-conference game once per year...

Or else.

Already, message boards are bursting with passionate responses to the recent news, its effects on the rivalry, the conference, A&M’s future and construction plans of a bronze statue to honor Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin. The majority of conversations surround the stability of the Big 12. Will it survive the departure of three teams in two years?

I believe so. The conference has the potential to nab big name programs in BYU, Notre Dame, Air Force and TCU. In addition, SMU placed its name in the hat with interest in joining the league.

The real question is how the conference will rank potential prospects. Location should play a larger role in this round of musical chairs after the Big 12 and its board of directors addressed the importance of geographical rivalries.

Loftin expressed his appreciation of conference officials in the withdrawal process.

“We appreciate the Big 12’s willingness to engage in a dialogue to end our relationship through mutually agreeable settlement,” Loftin said. “We, too, desire that this process be as amicable and prompt as possible and result in a resolution of all outstanding issues, including mutual waivers by Texas A&M and the conference on behalf of all the remaining members.”

The university announced it will submit an application to join an unidentified conference. At this point, all signs point to the Southeastern Conference, as Loftin said in a press conference on Aug. 15 that he had contacted only the SEC.

The SEC has yet to extend an invitation, so Aggie fans must postpone any celebration plans.

HOUSTON — Texas A&M dealt a blow to the Big 12 Conference on Wednesday, saying it plans to leave by July 2012 if it is accepted by the SEC or another league.

The move, which had been expected, may set off another round of conference realignment in college sports. The Aggies have made it clear they want to join the 12-member Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 has been clear that it will move swiftly to find at least one replacement for the Aggies.

University President R. Bowen Loftin notified the Big 12 in a letter and said departing the league "is in the best interest of Texas A&M." He said he hopes the move can be amicable and presumably hopes to negotiate a reasonable exit fee.

Texas A&M had been in the Big 12 since its founding in 1996.

But the school said it will submit an application to join another, unspecified conference. If it is accepted, Texas A&M will leave the Big 12, effective June 30, 2012.

"We are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs," Loftin said in a statement. "This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically. Texas A&M is an extraordinary institution, and we look forward to what the future may hold for Aggies worldwide."

The move by Texas A&M leaves questions about the future of the Big 12, which is down to 10 teams after Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) left the league in July after a wild round of realignment that also affected teams in the Mountain West, Big East and WAC.

Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, who serves as the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, said Tuesday that the group has formed a committee to look at possible replacements.

Loftin sent a letter to the Big 12 last week formally telling Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe they were exploring all options and asked the conference to outline the process if they decide to leave. On Monday, the university said it had received a letter from Beebe outlining the withdrawal procedure.

The SEC said earlier this month it was happy with its current membership but left the door open to expansion, and the Aggies certainly wouldn't have made this move if they didn't believe they could eventually join the conference.

The Big 12, including Texas A&M, agreed to a 13-year television deal with Fox Sports in April worth more than $1 billion. There is a chance the contract could be voided by the Aggies leaving the conference, which could lead to legal issues for Texas A&M and its new league.

The Aggies will also likely face an exit fee for leaving the Big 12, although it's unclear how much that could be. Nebraska paid $9.25 million and Colorado paid $6.9 million.

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin has already said that a departure from the Big 12 would take time.

On Thursday, he announced another step in what many believe is Texas A&M’s steady march to leave the league and, perhaps, join the Southeastern Conference. The school formally notified the Big 12 that it is considering leaving and wants to know the process if it does.

Less than a week after publicly expressing interest in joining the SEC, Loftin’s letter to conference Commissioner Dan Beebe said it should not be considered notice that the Aggies have already decided to leave.

“As I have indicated previously, we are working very deliberately to act in the best long-term interests of both Texas A&M and the state of Texas,” Loftin said in a statement released by the university. “This truly is a 100-year decision. While we understand the desire of all parties to quickly reach a resolution, these are extremely complex issues that we are  addressing methodically.”

Loftin received authority from the board of regents to take any action he deems necessary in terms of realignment on Aug. 15, a day after the SEC said it was happy with its current 12-school membership but left the door open to expansion.

If Texas A&M leaves the Big 12, the move could create a shake-up across college sports. In 2010, Texas considered offers to join the Big Ten and the Pac 10 before deciding to stay in the Big 12. Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) left the Big 12 in July.

Loftin said last week that he first approached SEC Commissioner Mike Slive on July 21 about Texas A&M’s interest in the SEC. He also said the Aggies would consider what their departure would mean for the future of the Big 12 before making any decisions.

In the letter, Loftin asked that the conference outline the process Texas A&M should follow if it decides to leave. Loftin said if the Aggies leave, they would want to do it in a way that complies with league bylaws and supports efforts to seek a new member of the conference. The school would presumably face some kind of exit fee.

Loftin has said financial consequences will certainly factor into any decision A&M makes about its future.

The Big 12, including Texas A&M, agreed to a 13-year television deal with Fox Sports in April worth more than $1 billion. There is a chance the contract could be voided if the Aggies leave the conference, which could lead to legal issues for Texas A&M and its new league.

On Thursday, Loftin reiterated Texas A&M’s reasoning for looking to move conferences.

“Ultimately, we are seeking to generate greater visibility nationwide for Texas A&M and our championship-caliber student-athletes, as well as secure the necessary and stable financial resources to support our athletic and academic programs,” Loftin said. “As a public university, Texas A&M owes it to the state’s taxpayers to maximize our assets and generate additional revenues both now and well into the future.”

The Big 12 did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

Printed on Friday, August 26, 2011 as: Loftin notifies Big 12 officials about school's plans.