Astros Press Release
04/01/2012 7:01 AM EDT
HOUSTON - Houston Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Crane announced today that the Astros will reject the decision by Major League Baseball to transfer the team from the Central Division of the National League to the Central Division of the American League, and will instead affiliate with the South-Eastern Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
"We listened to our fans, who were almost unanimously upset at our being forcibly realigned into the American League, where we would lose all the rivalries we've developed throughout our history," Crane said. "After a lot of soul searching, we recognized that the best fit for both the organization and our fans is to become part of the SEC. If we're going to get realigned after our 50th year as a National League franchise, it's going to be on our own terms."
The Astros realignment to the SEC will take place in January 2013.
As part of the move, the Astros will acquire a university and integrate it into the team's operations. "It's just like how The Ohio State University works, if you think about it," Crane said. "Most modern universities are really professional sports franchises that operate academic institutions on the side for the tax advantages."
"The hard part will be to launch the rest of the sports programs we'll need to compete as an NCAA Division I school," Crane continued. "We'll be calling up our entire AA and AAA organizations to fill in until we can establish a solid recruiting program."
"One advantage we have is that many of our players went straight into the minors without attending any college, so most are eligible to play sports in the NCAA, where they can be on scholarship. A lot of them have solid high school experience in the additional sports we'll be looking for them to play, just like the kids at the schools they'll be competing against, who perhaps wouldn't be in college except for the opportunity to play sports."
"We have a lot of challenges moving forward," Crane acknowledged. "I'm really looking forward to taking them on."
"Frankly, I can't wait to find out if Brett Myers can quarterback," Crane concluded.
More information will be posted at www.astros.com as it becomes available.