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Texas A&M regents instruct school president to vote yes on Thursday letting Texas, OU into SEC

The Texas-Texas A&M rivalry game is one step closer its return after A&M regents said they will agree to let Texas and Oklahoma join the Southeastern Conference.

The Texas A&M System Board of Regents announced they will direct school president M. Katherine Banks to vote in favor of adding Texas and Oklahoma to the Southeastern Conference when league presidents meet Thursday.

In a statement released Wednesday, A&M regents said they “had concerns about the communication process relating to this matter.” Still, the regents expressed confidence in Banks and A&M athletic director Ross Bjork “to navigate discussions” with the SEC partners.

“The board concluded that this expansion would enhance the long-term value of the SEC to student athletes and all of the institutions they represent — including Texas A&M,” A&M regents said in a statement.

More:Now with the stage set, league presidents expected to vote Texas, Oklahoma into SEC

For Texas and OU to be accepted into the SEC, the Longhorns and Sooners needed 11 of the league’s 14 current members to vote yes. Four no votes would have killed expansion. It was believed that all other SEC schools were accepting of Texas and OU, and the final vote would have been either 14-0 or 13-1, depending on the Aggies.

M. Katherine Banks, dean of the Texas A&M engineering school, is now the Texas A&M president.

Texas and OU have already gone through all the proper steps to leave the Big 12 Conference and make a move, although school officials kicked over a hornet’s nest in the process. The two teams have asked to start playing in the SEC in 2025 but few expect the schools to wait that long.

A&M regents do not appear worried about their standing in the new, expanded league.

“As members of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, we are proud of the Texas A&M athletic department and its tremendous success over the past decade,” the regents said in a statement. 

“We are proud to be the largest university in Texas and in the SEC. We are proud to have rock-solid financials, the best fan base in America and 550,000 former students who compete and succeed across the globe.”

Once Texas and OU join the SEC, all 16 teams are expected to see a massive increase in their annual television payout. CBS Sports projected each team could receive as much as $60 million annually from a blockbuster new television contract.

A high-ranking Texas A&M source said league presidents and athletic directors were briefed on the financial numbers on Tuesday. A&M regents met in person on Wednesday in College Station. SEC presidents are scheduled to meet virtually on Thursday.

Then on Friday, Texas and Oklahoma regents have scheduled meetings in Austin and Norman, Okla., respectively. It’s believed they will formally accept SEC invitations. 

Texas and OU have asked to started playing SEC football beginning with the 2025 season. However, few expect it to take that long.

Lawyers are getting involved. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN on Wednesday accusing the network of meddling with the league’s membership.

ESPN is “intentionally interfering with our business operations by encouraging other conferences to poach the members of the Big 12 and providing incentives to them to do so,” Bowlsby told USA TODAY Sports.

An ESPN spokeswoman told the American-Statesman, “The claims in the letter have no merit.”

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.