Texas and Oklahoma took a critical first step toward breaking away from the Big 12 Athletic Conference on Monday to join the SEC. In a joint statement, the schools announced they had informed the Big 12 that they won’t renew their grants of media rights once the deal expires in 2025.
The notice lays the groundwork to firmly set the SEC up as the strongest athletic conference in college sports. The move could also lead to further team reshuffling, as other conferences attempt to strengthen their own groupings.
“Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement,” Texas said in a statement. “The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.”
The next step would be for Oklahoma and Texas to officially ask to join the SEC’s ranks. To join the conference, the Sooners and Longhorns would need 11 of the 14 existing SEC programs to vote in favor of them joining. According to ESPN, there’s no known timetable for a vote.
The possible departures of Oklahoma and Texas from the Big 12 won’t come without pushback, of course. First, those schools would need to forfeit two years of media distributions from the Big 12, according to ESPN, which could be amount to a loss of $75 million each.
Plus, Texas A&M has strongly opposed Texas joining the SEC. Aggies athletic director Ross Bjork said last week that he wanted Texas A&M to “be the only SEC team from the state of Texas,” per Sports Illustrated. And Oklahoma’s departure could end a rivalry against Oklahoma State, which has been played 115 times since 1904.
“We are disappointed by the lack of engagement and transparency from our colleagues at OU over the past months on a matter with serious ramifications for our state,” Oklahoma State president Kayse Shrum tweeted on Friday. “We have historically worked together to advance our state and address issues based on a partnership built on trust.”
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