A&M students take a stand against SEC policy

Some of the same students who cheered so vigorously for Texas A&M to join the Southeastern Conference could be cheering from further away because of the move.

SEC policy does not permit student seating behind the visiting team’s benches. Texas A&M’s student senate passed a bill Wednesday night voicing displeasure with the SEC’s policy, according to a report in The Battalion, the student newspaper.

The bill stated that “any reduction of student section seating … is detrimental to the ‘traditions and pageantry the 12th Man brings to Kyle Field.'”

The SEC rules require that the first 25 rows of seats behind the opponent’s bench, between the 30-yard lines, cannot be occupied by students. That area at Kyle Field has not only included student seating but also Texas A&M’s marching band.

As part of Texas A&M’s revered 12th Man tradition, students stand throughout the game in a show of readiness to join the team on the field if called upon. If A&M follows SEC policy, that call will have to be made long-distance.

“Our first reaction was, ‘This is not good.’ We were upset,” student body president Jeff Pickering told The Battalion. “I asked people to start thinking of scenarios for, ‘If we have to adapt, how can we adapt?'”

The estimated 500 student seats would be allocated elsewhere in the stadium, while athletic department donors will likely end up in the former student section.

“We’ve had discussions with the SEC that it’s very important to us that we maintain Texas A&M as the home of the 12th Man,” Jason Cook, the school’s VP of marketing and communications, told the paper. “We’ve talked to the conference office about the uniqueness that we have and the fast the entire East side of our stadium is all students and that’s something that’s special to us and unique in all of college football.”

However, Cook could not confirm whether Texas A&M had made a formal appeal to the SEC for a waiver on the seating policy.

At least one student senator, Mark Womack, voiced displeasure that the school administration had not informed the students of the policy earlier.

However, another student senator, Mark Jessup, who is also head drum major of the Aggie Band, said moving the students won’t alter the nationally renowned game day experience at Kyle Field.

“I think that the 12th Man isn’t the 12th man because of where they’re standing,” Jessup told The Battalion. “I think the 12th Man is the 12th Man because of what they’re standing for.”

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire