Texas and Oklahoma, two of the founding members of the Big 12, took a pivotal step toward intention to leave the conference on Monday morning and announced they won't be renewing their grant of rights agreement.
This move allows the SEC to formally consider adding both programs to the conference.
"The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Oklahoma notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025," a joint statement by the two universities read. "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 move comes after rumors started surfacing on July 21 that the two programs had their eyes set on joining the SEC, but this was not the first time there were rumblings of a mass exodus from the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma both nearly left the conference after the 2010 season, but the pair of programs stayed put as Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC.
Administrators across the Big 12 held a conference call to discuss the bombshell report a day later, but neither school had a representative on the call, per Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger.
In a statement to SI, the Big 12 previously expressed its desire to keep the current 10 members intact, noting that the conference has proven it can compete at the highest level under the "current composition."
“Oklahoma and Texas are founding members of the Big 12 and we value their traditions and history of success," the statement read. "...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.”
If a move were to go through, that would give the SEC 16 members. The Longhorns and Sooners would need a 75% majority vote from the current 14 schools if the process reached that point. As of July 23, Texas A&M was the only school to have publicly voiced its opposition.
The SEC presidents called a meeting for Thursday, sources told Dellenger. The next step for both teams is to apply for membership, which has yet to happen.
Sources told Dellenger that both programs were prepared to wait until their grant of rights expires in 2025 to join the SEC instead of paying the $70 million exit fee.
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