Big 12 Accuses ESPN of Encouraging, Destabilizing Conference; Issues Cease and Desist

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The Big 12 Conference sent a “cease and desist” letter to ESPN on Wednesday, demanding that the network ends all actions that could harm the conference and its members.

In the letter, the Big 12 calls for ESPN to not communicate with the league’s existing conference members or any NCAA conference regarding its members, possible conference realignment or potential financial outcomes associated with realignment, Sports Illustrated reports.

The letter comes as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby says ESPN tried to interfere in an effort to destabilize the conference and help Texas and Oklahoma avoid exit fees.

Bowlsby told Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger 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. Dellenger later reports the “unnamed” conference is the American.

“It is tortious interference,” he told Sports Illustrated.

“It causes me to further suspect [ESPN] had their hands all over the Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC,” Bowlsby told “They were was deceptive as you can possibly be. There are right and wrong ways to [do] these things. They sought to deceive us from the very beginning.”

ESPN’s told that Bowlsby’s allegations “have no merit.”

source from the Big 12 told SI that the network is trying to cause “chaos and panic.”

“You think that you’ve seen it all,” the source said. “You can’t make this s*** up. They want the Big 12 to dissolve for financial gain. But time is on our side.”

ESPN’s statement on Bowlsby’s allegations: “The claims in the letter have no merit.”

All of this news comes a day before the SEC’s vote to determine if Texas and Oklahoma will join the conference, reports. At least three-fourths of the SEC’s 14 members will have to vote yes on the conference expansion. 

Texas A&M’s Board of Regents recommended to its university president to support SEC expansion, The Athletic‘s Sam Khan Jr. reports. Though the motion to approve the recommendation to support SEC expansion and the subsequent statement passed, it was not unanimous by the Texas A&M Board of Regents — one regent, Mike Hernandez III, opposed the motion.

The news that Oklahoma and Texas will soon begin the process of joining the SEC first surfaced last week, and OutKick previously reported the programs are prepared to wait until the current grant of rights agreement expires in 2025 before moving on from the Big 12.

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Follow Meg Turner on Twitter @Megnturner_ and Instagram @Megnturner.

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


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  1. Something smelled rotten in all this from the beginning, so no surprise. When you look around to find ESPN as an ally…it’s officially time to question the path and decisions you’ve chosen folks. I’m not at all proud of being a fan of an SEC school right now. You don’t destroy other conferences trying to “get yours”. You need other conferences as serious competition to make the sport competitively entertaining, geographically balanced, and growing nationwide. If you’re making a once in a lifetime change like this you have to do it the right way, get clear agreement from all the parties impacted, make sure all sides get return, be respectful of history, and respect fan bases. Instead this is being executed like some hostile takeover. The end result won’t be good imo.

    • Agreed. College football might become Nascar or Cricket if they aren’t careful. A sport that only a few schools fans care about. That seems lame. The Big 10 and SEC will poach the best of the best and leave the remaining teams to figure it the fuck out. At the end of the day though no one should be surprised, we all love capitalism until it is detrimental to us. So I won’t complain too hard other than having to find other shit to do on fall Saturday’s in the future. Time to get my golf game polished up for my older years.

  2. It doesn’t help ESPN’s case when prominent Four Letter Nitwits have gone on air and all but declared the Big X(II) as “dead but they don’t know it” as Toolbag Greenberg said a few days ago. This legal drama may not stop TU and UofO from bailing for the SEC, but it sounds like the B12 may be looking to use this as a way to kick ESPN out the door as well and possibly give Fox more key games and potentially adding a new partner to the mix (CBS, maybe even Turner).

  3. No fan of MSESPN but I think this is largely symbolic. They’re a media company, albeit a shitty one, so they can always use that as an excuse for contacting any school behind the scenes

    CFB is essentially setting itself up as Brittish soccer where you have the Premier League (SEC) and everyone else is the lower tier.

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