Longhorn Network builds rift in Big 12 Texas A&M, conference balk at some of UT's programming ideas.

A swanky television network beaming from the state's capital has threatened to do what the departures of Nebraska and Colorado could not: bust up the Big 12.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin used the term “uncertainty” time and again Thursday in describing the state of the league, thanks to the start of the ESPN-owned Longhorn Network in Austin next month.

“The (recent) announcement by ESPN that the Longhorn Network might carry a conference (football) game in addition to a nonconference game was troubling, and then following right after that was ESPN's announcement regarding high school games would be televised as well,” Loftin said. “Both of those we believe provide a great deal of uncertainty right now for us and the conference.”

The Aggies' uprising against the $300 million enterprise has appeared to pay off for A&M. Hours after Loftin addressed the issue following a closed-door session by A&M regents concerning the matter, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe released a statement.

“Until the (Big 12) members have a chance to consider all of the issues and come to conclusion about how the conference will manage interplay between the conference television package and institutional networks, no more than one live football game will be televised on any institutional network,” Beebe said. “And no high school content will be televised on a branded member's network.”

Loftin said the LHN has no business showing Big 12 football games, and especially high school games that might target top recruits.

“If (they show) one conference game, then maybe we have two or three,” Loftin said. “High school games are very problematic. ... If we have an unequal playing field for various schools (concerning recruiting), we think that is a problem. That creates uncertainty.”

Meanwhile, ESPN and A&M athletic director Bill Byrne chimed in on the suddenly touchy subject Thursday.

“We recognize more discussions need to take place to properly address the questions raised by the conference,” ESPN said in a statement. “This is uncharted territory for all involved, so it's logical for everyone to proceed carefully.”

Longhorn Network is scheduled to crank up Aug. 26.

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