On Wednesday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent an eye-opening cease and desist letter to ESPN regarding the current state of the conference.
Bowlsby stated in the letter that ESPN reached out to at least one of the remaining Big 12 teams about potentially leaving the conference.
“It has come to my direct attention that ESPN, the current business partner of the Big 12 Conference, has taken certain actions that are intended to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN,” Bowlsby wrote. “Setting aside ESPN’s potential involvement in the recent announcement by the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma that they intend to leave the Big 12 Conference in 2025 (as to which we reserve all legal rights), I am aware that ESPN has also been actively engaged in discussions with at least one other conference regarding that conference inducing additional members of the Big 12 Conference to leave the Big 12 Conference.”
Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated had additional information to share on Bowlsby’s behalf.
“Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby tells Sports Illustrated that he has documented evidence that ESPN tried to encourage an unnamed conference to add Big 12 members in an effort to destabilize the league so Texas & OU could avoid exit fees,” Dellenger reported on Twitter.
Shortly after Bowlsby’s letter went public, ESPN sent the following response: “The claims in the letter have no merit.”
ESPN statement in response to Big 12's cease and desist letter:
“The claims in the letter have no merit.”
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) July 28, 2021
Now, the spotlight will shift over to Bowlsby to see what he has to say about ESPN’s statement.
The future of the Big 12, meanwhile, is very much up in the air at the moment.