Big 12 officials meet to discuss possible departures of Oklahoma and Texas to SEC
A little more than a week after Texas and Oklahoma officials met with Big 12 presidents and chancellors to discuss potential moves to the SEC, the two schools appear to have generated enough interest in the league to justify a full-fledged meeting next week. “We’re very optimistic about what happened (Wednesday) night,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We expect that we’ll have a meeting next week. There are some issues that we’ll continue to work on before we get to that meeting. We don’t know what those issues are yet.”
10:00 p.m. Eastern Time
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Senior Writer for ESPN
- Senior writer for college football
- Author of seven college football books
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While Big 12 officials continue to seek answers from Oklahoma and Texas regarding their potential moves to the SEC, the league made it plain on Thursday that it expects its marquee schools to follow the conference’s rules and television contracts.
On Thursday evening, the Big 12 athletic directors and their respective institution presidents and chancellors convened a videoconference to discuss the potential changes. According to reports, both OU and Texas were invited to the meeting but refused to participate in the call.
“There is an understanding that institutions may operate in their own self-interest,” the Big 12 stated in a statement to ESPN. “However, there is an expectation that members conform to Conference rules and the enforcement of Grant of Rights agreements.”
According to the Big 12’s rules, any member who wishes to leave must give the league at least 18 months’ notice. There’s also a hefty departure cost: leaving schools must pay the league a “commitment buyout fee,” which is the total of distributions that would otherwise be given to the institution during its last two years of membership. According to the bylaws, “all distributions of any kind that would otherwise have been made to the withdrawing member during the interim period” between the notice date and the actual departure date “shall be deemed to have agreed to forfeit all distributions of any type that would have been made to the withdrawing member during the interim period.”
The Big 12 disbursed $38 million to its members last year, the third-highest amount among Power 5 conferences, meaning Texas and Oklahoma would owe nearly $76 million apiece.
Both institutions have refused to comment beyond comments made on Wednesday, so it’s unclear if they’re aware of the consequences. According to one source, the Big 12 addressed the potential of generating additional income for Texas and Oklahoma if their desire to leave is purely financial.
OU and Texas also agreed to a grant-of-rights deal with the Big 12, granting the conference first- and second-tier media rights for football and men’s basketball through June 30, 2025. That implies that until the deal expires, the Big 12 will retain ownership of the schools’ broadcast rights for those sports, even if they are no longer members.
During Thursday’s meeting, conference officials also touched on what the Big 12 could do if OU and Texas leave, with one source saying that this included looking into if additional Power 5 teams might want to join, or whether colleges like UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, or BYU would be good additions. Even if OU and Texas opt to remain, there was some interest in adding two more teams during the meeting.
However, none of those discussions got traction since the next stage is to figure out OU’s and Texas’ intentions — as well as their reasons.
According to one source, the next 48 hours will be crucial in addressing that question.
“We need answers sooner rather than later,” one insider added, “and right now we don’t have any.”
“The eight members firmly want to maintain the existing makeup, which has shown it can compete at the top levels,” the Big 12 stated in a statement to ESPN after the meeting.
“Intercollegiate athletics is through a period of significant transition, which offers both possibilities and challenges, and the Big 12 Conference looks forward to continuing to play a key role in its development.”