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Texas A&M officially heading to SEC

Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller (8) catches

Texas A&M wide receiver Jeff Fuller (8) catches a 17-yard touchdown pass as Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin (10) defends during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) Photo Credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The SEC announced on Sunday that Texas A&M will officially join as a member school on July 1, 2012 and will begin competition in the 2012-13 academic year.

“The Southeastern Conference provides Texas A&M the national visibility that our great university and our student-athletes deserve,” Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin said in a statement. “We are excited to begin competition in the nation’s premier athletic conference. This is a 100-year decision that we have addressed carefully and methodically, and I believe the Southeastern Conference gives the Aggies the best situation of any conference in the country.”

The SEC will now be at 13 schools and the focus can shift to adding a 14th school, if the conference decides to go in that direction.

The Big 12 can also start to focus on the future.

"I am personally saddened to see Texas A&M depart from the Big 12, and wish I had the opportunity to visit the campus to sit down and talk with their administration," Big 12 Conference interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement. "We will continue to work diligently in securing the long-term stability of the Big 12. Now that the status of Texas A&M has officially been determined, the membership can focus on the desired course for the Conference moving forward. Although no timeline has been established, an expeditious pursuit is anticipated."

With Texas A&M leaving and only nine teams remaining in the conference, it will be interesting to see what direction the Big 12 goes in to add a school or schools. TCU makes geographic sense and has a strong football program. But the Horned Frogs are set to join the Big East in 2012. The Big East, however, is still trying to recover from the losses of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC. BYU is playing as an independent this year and might make sense as a Big 12 addition.

The Texas A&M move will also likely end its rivalry game with Texas. But fans will get to see a bit of the future on Saturday. No. 14 Texas A&M plays future SEC rival Arkansas, now No. 18 after losing to Alabama, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington (12 p.m., ESPN).

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