Dan Jones’ comments on SEC, Texas A&M | Ole Miss Sports

Some comments from a conversation with Ole Miss chancellor Dan Jones this morning regarding the admission of Texas A&M into the SEC. There are still issues to iron out, but the Aggies will be in soon. …

(There was a report that the vote to invite Texas A&M was only 10-2. What can you say about that?)

“Our conference is certainly united. I don’t know where the 10-2 came from. A couple of presidents could not be there in person. There is consensus within the SEC. Texas A&M is a fine university, academically a strong university and has been for a long time. They are a university that is consistent with type of universities already in the SEC. They bring added value with a long and storied history of athletic traditions and success. They will fit with the SEC in every way. Everyone recognizes that bringing in the state of Texas, whether for the opportunity to recruit students, with the larger footprint for the SEC, the television coverage. … It’s a positive impact on the SEC.”

(Will the SEC be adding a 14th school soon?)

“I don’t see any time frame for it. Everyone recognizes that an uneven number of schools presents some awkwardness and challenges. Because of that, there may be conversations about a 14th school, but there are not any plans for a 14th school, not any concrete plans. We’ve said over and over again, the SEC is not out seeking members, but is receptive to schools who want to make application and are unfettered by other arrangements.”

(Are we seeing an end to geographic conferences?)

“Every time you expand, whether it’s adding South Carolina and Arkansas to expand the old footprint, you expand and enlarge your geography. It makes travel more difficult. From the geographic and cultural standpoint, you begin to stretch yourselves, but the days when conferences align around constrained geography are behind us. When we consider opportunities we’ll have to look further than in years past.”

(How does the addition of Texas A&M impact Ole Miss?)

“Anything that is good for the SEC is good for Ole Miss. Anything that is good for Ole Miss is good for the SEC. We’ve added, if we’re able to complete this arrangement, will be adding a team that is a strong university, that has strong athletic programs, that will be another competitive team and make us an even stronger conference. Ole Miss benefits greatly by being part of the strongest athletic conference in the nation, and this makes us an even stronger conference.”

(Do you believe this will increase the school’s ability to recruit to the general population, not just athletes?)

“I do. It will give us added exposure. The exposure through our athletics program is part of the opportunity students in other states have to make us come to mind. The Presidential debate, the Blind Side (movie), the back to back Cotton Bowl appearances … all are important in raising the awareness of the University of Mississippi. That has been reflected in the large increase in applications of students we’ve had from all over the country.”