September 27, 2011 9:53:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State officials seem just fine with the Southeastern Conference officially wrapping itself in more maroon and white.
SEC presidents and chancellors, acted unanimously Sunday to accept Texas A&M University into the league effective July 1, 2012, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2012-13 academic year.
"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," said Dr. Bernie Machen, chair of the SEC Presidents and Chancellors and president of the University of Florida.
At a pep rally and media conference Monday evening at Texas A&M, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said he anticipated having a 13-team league schedule for all of the major sports.
"I think the SEC would have preferred to have schools 13 and 14 together, but when the opportunity presents itself you aren't always able to do those kind of things," CBS Sports analyst Tony Barnhart said in a statement on the league website. "I was one of the people who was saying "No Way" that the SEC would operate as a 13-team league. But as I look as I look at it more closely, that may be what the SEC has to do to get the 14th team they really want."
Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum was involved in the 12-0 vote Friday to accept Texas A&M's application to the conference.
"Texas A&M is an outstanding institution, academically and athletically." Keenum said in a statement Sept. 7. "It is rich in history and tradition with a huge supportive fanbase. It's a land-grant institution, with a mission that is the same as ours, so there are a lot of similarities as well as relationships we already have due to research between our institutions. I also think that it will enhance the value of the conference, which will result in additional revenues for the conference and all of its members."
Slive said the 13 schools still will evenly divide the revenue of league television revenue, and that the league's contract with ESPN has "add-in provisions" if it expanded beyond its current 12-team format.
MSU has competed in football five times against Texas A&M, but the program hasn't traveled to Kyle Field on the College Station campus since 1913.
The MSU basketball team will play Texas A&M at 6 p.m. No. 17 in the semifinals of the 2011 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. The matchup against the Aggies will mark the first meeting between the two since 1966 when MSU claimed a 62-49 victory at the USM Invitational in Hattiesburg.
Before he left for the Division I athletics director meetings, MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin gave the move a resounding seal of approval in a statement Sunday night.
"Texas A&M is a school with great traditions, and its passionate fanbase fits nicely with the unique culture of the SEC," Stricklin said. "We look forward to athletic competitions with the Aggies, while working together off the field to make the SEC an even stronger conference."
MSU football offensive coordinator Les Koenning, who has coached at MSU and Texas A&M, smiled when asked about the move, saying it was great for the Aggies.
"When you look at the SEC, there are a lot of (situations) where the football team makes the town up and that's way it is in College Station," Koenning said. "It reminds me a lot of Starkville. Who wouldn't want to play in the SEC now?"
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