The NCAA athletics conference realignment saga entered a new episode yesterday with further reshuffling. Just a month after Texas A&M finally confirmed the rumors that it would leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, it is again breaking rank, leaving the SEC for the European Union.
The European Union had grown tired of Greece running an irresponsible monetary policy that landed it in a crippling debt that has driven the entire European system into a deep recession. They announced Monday that they would not renew Greece’s contract and would instead extend a membership offer to Texas A&M University. EU Council President Jose Manuel Barroso offered the following explanation:
“We are looking for stability in the EU. There has been a lot of uncertainty recently. Texas A&M is known for its consistent level of excellence in its football program. The team is constantly one of the best college football teams every year. We also don’t anticipate having to worry about them pursuing an expansionary monetary policy since they aren’t a country.”
When Texas A&M’s Big 12 departure was announced last month, along with Missouri’s, the conference swiftly moved to find replacements. The domino effect was perpetuated when it invited current Big East member West Virginia and Big East-commit TCU.
After losing numerous teams to the ACC over the last decade (Virginia Tech, Miami, Boston College) and worried about losing more to the Big 12, the Big East began looking for its own replacements, and has gained a reputation in recent months of desperately courting teams from far outside of its namesake location—teams like TCU, Boise State, and San Diego State—just to try to keep a respectable number of teams in its conference. This pattern moved to a new height Tuesday when the conference extended a membership offer to Greece.
Greece, suddenly without a conference, quickly accepted the Big East’s offer.
“We thought we would fit well in the Big East, since we’re mediocre at basketball and we have no clue how to play football,” commented Greek president Karolos Papoulias. Big East commissioner John Marinatto had an equally positive take, “Greece was a good fit to replace some of the teams we have lost. We take the term Big East fairly lightly these days. We’ll take anyone that wants to be a part of our conference, really.”
Texas A&M has caused much drama in the collegiate athletic world in the last year. The school was rumored to have interest in the PAC-10 expansion in 2010 but opted to stay in the Big 12. This year, rumors consistently linked them to interest in the Southeastern Conference but university officials vehemently denied them and stressed their commitment to the Big 12, until they finally announced the move. This unprecedented second move in one off-season is expected to cause another controversy as the school continues its search for the ‘perfect fit’ at the expense of every conference it leaves behind.
“We’re always looking for things like competitiveness and rivalries and whatnot, but in the end we just like money. We figure with the new market such as this we should be able to make some money,” said Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne.
-Matt Gwin ’14