When news broke on Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma had reached out to the SEC about membership opportunities, official responses were not a ringing endorsement for the future of the Big 12 Conference.
Statements from the Austin, Texas, and Norman, Oklahoma, campuses both referenced “rumors” of their status, but neither denied the Houston Chronicle’s report.
Nor have denials come since. Instead, the general feeling is not if the move will happen but when.
The move would require 11 of 14 SEC schools to vote in favor to pass.
Yahoo Sports reported Thursday that in the early stages of wrangling there appeared to be 13 yes votes, with Texas A&M – which joined the SEC with fellow Big 12 member Missouri in 2012 – as the lone outlier.
There’s still time for deals to be struck and positions to change.
The unanimous opinion of Daily Journal sources is that Texas and Oklahoma will go somewhere.
A sign of Big 12 uncertainty came when its media partners, ESPN-ABC and Fox, declined the conference’s invitation to begin early negotiations for the league’s media rights contracts which expire in 2025.
The SEC’s new contract with ESPN-ABC begins in 2024.
Big 12’s quandary
Big 12 leaders held a conference call Thursday night to discuss the league’s future. Multiple reports said all 10 members were invited but that no Texas or Oklahoma officials were on the call.
Texas and Oklahoma would face significant financial penalties – about $70 million each, according to a Sports Illustrated report – for leaving the Big 12 before the current media contracts expire.
“There is a recognition that institutions may act in their own self-interest, however there is an expectation that members adhere to Conference bylaws and the enforcement of Grant of Rights agreements,” the Big 12 said in a statement Thursday night.