On Wednesday evening, the Big 12 Conference sent a 'Cease and Desist' letter to ESPN following the University of Texas and Oklahoma University's official letter to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) for full-time membership on Tuesday.
According to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Sports Illustrated that he has documented evidence that ESPN tried to encourage an unnamed conference to add Big 12 members in an effort to destabilize the league so Texas & OU could avoid exit fees. "It is tortious interference," said Bowlsby.
"It causes me to further suspect they (ESPN) had their hands all over the Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC," continued Bowlsby. "They were as deceptive as you can possibly be. There are right and wrong ways to do these things. They sought to deceive us from the very beginning."
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports named the American Athletic Conference (AAC) the culprit and poach "3-5" teams, although no schools have surfaced at this time.
Bowlsby said Oklahoma and Texas "acted the part of happy members. Had we been aware of some grievances, we would have attempted to address it. I’m sure they’ll try to get out of the exit fee and the Grant of Rights."
Bowlsby said he reached out to Texas and Oklahoma officials following the reports last week and they allegedly told him that this is only exploratory and is a long-term process. However, it is reported that the SEC will vote to accept the two schools on Thursday.
ESPN told Sports Illustrated, “The claims in the letter have no merit.”
Bowlsby plans on holding Oklahoma, Texas and ESPN to the contracts are up in 2025 "even if it is uncomfortable."
As for the future of the Big 12, Bowlsby stated, "If our schools hang together - I realize they have to cover their backside - we’ll have some options going forward. But it’s not going to be easy to replace Oklahoma and Texas."
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