The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma may join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) sooner than expected.
Brett McMurphy of the Action Network reported that the schools may be leaving the Big 12 and joining the conference as early as 2024 — a full year earlier than expected.
The initial announcement in July 2021 shook the college sports world and sparked the latest chapter in conference realignment across the country.
Texas and Oklahoma have been members of the Big 12 since its inception in the mid-1990s when the Southwestern Conference (SWC) and Big Eight Conference decided to merge their remaining members.
Nebraska and Colorado were the first members to leave the Big 12 in 2010, departing for the Big Ten and PAC-12, respectively.
In 2011, Texas A&M and Missouri left the Big 12 for the SEC. They were quickly replaced by TCU and West Virginia — the first new Big 12 members since the conference’s founding.
That was the last time the SEC, which currently consists of 14 schools, expanded.
The Big 12 currently has only ten member schools. However, that number will expand to 14 when BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and Central Florida join the conference in the summer of 2023 and decrease to 12 once Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC.
Last summer, Southern California (USC) and UCLA similarly announced they would leave the Pac-12 and move to the Big Ten in 2024, further complicating the future of many conferences and causing a ripple effect across the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
McMurphy reported that there are still hurdles to overcome and several factors contributing to a possible early move for Oklahoma and Texas, such as television and media contracts, nonconference scheduling, exit fees, and the Big 12’s Grant of Rights. Still, the desire for an early move is there for all parties involved.
The SEC recently signed a new media rights deal with ESPN, which is based on the number of members in the conference. The early additions would mean ESPN would have to pay more for the deal earlier than expected.
That would also mean the Big 12 loses its most influential brands, although they recently finalized a contract with FOX and ESPN that will run until 2031.
The Big 12 also requires departing schools to pay an exit fee that is open to negotiation. Texas and Oklahoma have yet to agree with the conference on an amount for those fees.