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After just one week of public posturing, it looks as if the Big 12 will be without the Sooners and the Longhorns, two of its flagship programs, in the coming years.
Texas and OU released a joint statement Monday:
“The University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement. The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.”
The statement doesn’t explicitly include a move to any conference, but given the reports of interest from every SEC school except Texas A&M, a move down South seems inevitable. With two extra teams, the SEC would have 16 teams and distinguish itself even more as the premier conference in college athletics.
The statement of intent may be in response to Big 12 officials wanting no part of a long, drawn-out negotiating process when a divorce is inevitable. According to sources, the Big 12 Executive Committee made it clear: if you want to negotiate, do it genuinely. Otherwise, let’s separate and move on.
Another source told Yahoo that the Big 12 Executive Committee’s message to Oklahoma and Texas was clear: “Don’t play us. If you are willing to come with ideas or elements you’d need, do it genuinely. If this is done, let us know.”— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 26, 2021
A lot can happen between now and any official move, but if Texas and OU are indeed moving out of the Big 12, then it’s time to say goodbye to a significant era of college sports. The Big 12 Conference was founded in February 1994. The eight members of the former Big Eight Conference joined with Southwest Conference schools Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas Tech to form the conference, with play beginning in 1996. The SEC also experienced its first round of expansion just years prior, adding Arkansas and South Carolina in 1990.
Fast forward a few decades later, and the entire southeastern corner of American collegiate athletics is nearly unrecognizable. The abrupt changes also align with the slow erosion of the NCAA in general, thanks to introduction of NIL laws meant to undermine the amateurism associated with college sports. What happens next is truly anyone’s guess, but regardless of outcome, what we know is that a whole new generation of rivalries and relationships is about to be under way.
Stay with OutKick for all developing angles of conference realignment and the implications of any changes within the NCAA.