Officials with the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin released a joint statement Monday announcing that they do not plan to renew their grants of media rights to the Big 12 Athletic Conference following the contracts’ expiration in 2025.
The move is the first formal step toward leaving the Big 12, ESPN reported.
In the statement released Monday and obtained by KOKI-TV, officials with Oklahoma and Texas said that the schools “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,” read the statement.
The announcement comes amid speculation that the teams are looking to join the Southeastern Conference, according to the Houston Chronicle. The newspaper cited an unidentified high-ranking college official who reportedly had knowledge of the decision.
In a statement released Monday, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby called the decision disappointing
“We recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” he added. “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships. Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond. The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”
On Friday, The Associated Press reported that Texas and Oklahoma had discussed a move to the SEC with officials from the powerhouse conference, though no formal invitation had yet been extended. The executive committee of the Big 12 met virtually Sunday with the presidents of the Texas and Oklahoma schools, a meeting which Bowlby described the meeting as “cordial” in a statement released after the event.
“The Executive Committee expressed a willingness to discuss proposals that would strengthen the Conference and be mutually beneficial to OU and UT, as well as the other member institutions of the Conference,” Bowlsby said. “I expect that we will continue our conversations in the days ahead and we look forward to discussing thoughts, ideas and concepts that may be of shared interest and impact.”
The Oklahoma Sooners have won the Big 12 championship the last six seasons in a row, according to KOKI. The news station reported the team remained a preseason favorite again this year.
To join the SEC, the Sooners and the Texas Longhorns would have to officially apply for membership and then get approval to join the conference from at least 75% of the conference delegates, amounting to 11 of the 14 schools, AL.com reported.
©2021 Cox Media Group