The Big 12’s board of athletic directors and university presidents met virtually Thursday night in response to reports that Oklahoma and Texas plan to join the SEC. According to ESPN, both OU and Texas were invited to the videoconference. Neither school joined the call.
Prominent Big 12 source tells the American-Statesman the Texas-OU move to the SEC is almost done. "They've been working on this for a minimum of 6 months, and the A&M leadership was left out of discussions and wasn't told about it." Move could become official in a week.
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) July 23, 2021
“There is a recognition that institutions may act in their own self-interest, however there is an expectation that members adhere to Conference bylaws and the enforcement of Grant of Rights agreements,” the Big 12 told ESPN. The conference reaffirmed its expectation that the Sooners and Longhorns will honor their TV contracts.
The Big 12 requires seceding schools to provide at least 18 months’ notice. As ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach point out, the conference also enforces a massive exit fee––equivalent to “the sum of distributions that otherwise would be paid to the school during the final two years of its membership.” The Big 12 bylaws state that withdrawing institutions “shall be deemed to have agreed to forfeit all distributions of any type that otherwise would have been made to the withdrawing member during the interim period.”
With Oklahoma and Texas seemingly hell-bent on leaving the conference, Big 12 officials talked Thursday about possible replacements. Houston, UCF, Cincinnati and BYU were among the programs mentioned. The Big 12 is also reportedly open to schools from other Power 5 conferences.
While potential new members were briefly explored, OU and Texas remain the Big 12’s primary focuses. The conference’s flagship schools aren’t gone yet. It’s in the Big 12’s best interest to discern whether those relationships are salvageable.
“This is a time of dramatic change within intercollegiate athletics that presents both opportunities and challenges,” the Big 12 said following Thursday night’s meeting. “The Big 12 Conference looks forward to continuing to play a major role in its evolution.”
Big changes are coming.