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After Thursday’s vote to allow Oklahoma and Texas to join the SEC, Big XII Commissioner Bob Bowlsby issued a response regarding the two powerhouse programs’ decision and approval to leave the conference.
Taking the brunt of OU-UT’s blindsiding decision, Bowlsby experienced a week unlike anything seen in college football, which has understandably ruffled his feathers a bit.
After a meeting on July 22 with the Big XII’s remaining eight schools, Bowlsby was hard-pressed to find a silver lining in the transition, so he proposed additional financial incentives for both programs and some proxy to adjust the direction of the Big XII going forward.
It didn’t work. Texas and Oklahoma stayed the course and officially inquired with the SEC on Monday. They were then admitted into the SEC all 14 SEC schools — including Texas A&M — voted unanimously on Thursday to admit them.
“Today’s SEC announcement reaffirms that these plans have been in the works with ongoing discussions between the parties and television partner for some time,” said Commissioner Bowlsby following the announcement. “We are disappointed these discussions went as far as they did without notice to, or inclusion of, other Big 12 members.”
Threatened by a massive loss in audience with OU and UT’s departure — that could potentially force the Big XII to shake up its own formula — the commissioner questioned the integrity of the decision and still projected confidence that the two programs will stick around until 2025.
He added, “Despite our concerns for the process and for the overall health of college athletics, we will do everything possible to make sure that the student-athletes at both universities enjoy an excellent experience throughout the remaining four years of their participation and competition in the Big 12 Conference.”
ESPN now faces legal challenges from Bowlsby for allegedly aiding Oklahoma and Texas’ departure, and the commissioner is now left to consider the improbable: potentially meshing with a fellow conference — the AAC — to stay afloat against the SEC.