Big-12 Gets Smaller with SEC Invite to OU & Texas

(Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News Photographer)

Following a whirlwind week of rumors and discussion, the SEC’s Board of Directors approved an invitation to the University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas to join the league when media contracts expire in 2025. The move comes after reports leaked last week citing Texas and OU refusing to renew television and advertising contracts through the Big-12. 

With two of the most dominant teams out of the league, competitiveness may increase. Both schools field teams in sports ranging from football, baseball, and basketball. The schools hold numerous State and National Championship victories.  

When the news first leaked that the schools were considering a move, officials said it amounted to nothing more than rumors. With the invitation approval on July 29th, the news was obviously not mere speculation or falsity.  

Commissioner of the Big-12, Bob Bowlsby said in a statement that the news confirms that discussions had been ongoing behind closed doors. He went so far as to accuse ESPN of “manipulating other conferences to go after our members” on July 28th. 

“We are disappointed these discussions went as far as they did without notice to, or inclusion of, other Big 12 members,” Bowlsby said in a statement. “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.” 

A joint statement from Texas and Oklahoma announced their intention to continue participating in the Big-12 competition through June 30th, 2025, which is the date that media contracts with ESPN Big-12 coverage end. Terminating the contracts early would cost upward of $75 million per school. 

The vote to invite the two schools was unanimous in favor from the 14-member SEC Board. Both the Oklahoma and Texas Board of Regents met Friday to make a final decision and accepted, setting in motion a chain of events that will change collegiate sports for years to come.  

“Today’s action by the Board of Regents is in the best interests of UT student-athletes, the UT Austin athletics program overall, and the university,” University of Texas system Chancellor James Milliken said in a statement. “This move ensures a strong future for an outstanding athletics program, providing the opportunity for our student-athletes to compete at the highest levels.”  

With only eight schools remaining in the Big-12, the future is uncertain. Should the league collapse, Texas and Oklahoma would be free of contractual obligations.  

Texas A&M left the Big-12 Conference in 2011 to join the SEC, ending a long-standing rivalry between the Aggies and the Longhorns. With both teams now slated to compete in the same division, it’s only a matter of time before the on-field reunion happens.  

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