TDP discusses expansion, Clemson

In the wake of the SEC's membership invitation to Texas A&M, Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips weighs on what may lie ahead for Clemson.

Thanks to a unanimous passing vote at the SEC presidents meeting on Tuesday night, Texas A&M was scheduled to become the league's 13th member institution on July 1, 2012.

However, Baylor's threat to take legal action against could potentially block a move to the SEC by Texas A&M.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin released a statement on Wednesday:

"We are certainly pleased with the action taken last night by the presidents and chancellors of the Southeastern Conference to unanimously accept Texas A&M as the league's 13th member. However, this acceptance is conditional, and we are disappointed in the threats made by one of the Big 12 member institutions to coerce Texas A&M into staying in Big 12 Conference.

"These actions go against the commitment that was made by this university and the Big 12 on Sept. 2. We are working diligently to resolve any and all issues as outlined by the SEC."

According to a release from Florida president Bernie Machen, the chair of the SEC presidents group:

"We were notified yesterday afternoon that at least one Big 12 institution had withdrawn its previous consent and was considering legal action. The SEC has stated that to consider an institution for membership, there must be no contractual hindrances to its departure.

"The SEC voted unanimously to accept Texas A&M University as a member upon receiving acceptable reconfirmation that the Big 12 and its members have reaffirmed the letter dated September 2, 2011."

With the addition of Texas A&M to the SEC seemingly more inevitable than ever, CUTigers.com spoke with Phillips, who suspects talk of a 14th team to the SEC could be right around the corner.

"I do believe that my information, which I think is fairly reliable -- they haven't moved beyond their thinking on the 13th school... common sense will tell you that you need that 14th team to have balance in your divisions," he said.

"Once one domino falls there will be other dominoes."

According to Phillips, Clemson has not been approached for membership in the SEC.

He added that Clemson remains committed to the ACC, and so do the 11 other member institutions.

"With regard to the ACC, I believe very strongly that our membership is stable in the ACC," Phillips said. "Again, if you start moving to these 16-team type of leagues, I think it's incumbent on our league to see where we are in that.

"You're going to lose out on markets, lose out on improvement in your contracts. It's had a ripple."

President James Barker, the Board of Tustees and Phillips recently discussed the ramifications of expansion and what it could mean to Clemson.

"We had a conference call and visited what may transpire. People expressed their opinions and everything," Phillips said. "We're committed to the Atlantic Coast Conference. We're committed to doing everything we can to ensure that current members are stable.

"The conference, on top of that, they have a standing committee that has already had a couple of meetings or conference calls to develop a strategy or understand what's happening in these other conferences, and try to gain good, solid information so that we have an opportunity to be more proactive, rather than reactive.

"At the same time, you've got to look to see what are your options on your footprint. You don't want to be left behind, if that appears to be the best way to go, to these mega-conferences. That domino falling has just reinforced the need to have a sense of urgency, with regard to our planning in the Atlantic Coast Conference."


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