According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, the Big 12 Conference sent a cease and desist order to ESPN on Wednesday.
The letter allegedly demands ESPN end "all actions that may harm the conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference's existing members or any NCAA conference regarding the Big 12 conference's members, possible conference realignment or potential financial incentive or outcomes related to possible conference realignment," according to Thamel.
The reaction comes after the University of Texas and Oklahoma University officially submitted a request to become a full-time member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) on Tuesday and reports that the move was set in motion approximately a year ago.
UPDATE: Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Ross Dellegner obtains a copy of Big 12 Conference's 'Cease and Desist' letter to ESPN
It has come to my direct attention that ESPN, the current business partner of the Big Conference, has taken certain actions that are intended to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN. Setting aside ESPN's potential involvement in the recent announcement by the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma that they intend to leave the Big 12 Conference in 2025 (as to which we reserve all legal rights.) I am aware that ESPN has also been actively engaged in discussion with at least one other conference regarding that conference inducing additional Members of the Big 12 Conference to leave the Big 12 Conference.
"As you know, our Members have entered into contractual obligations to the Big 12 Conference under the Amended and Restate Agreement related to the grant to the Conference of the rights to televise their athletic events (the "Grant of Rights Agreement"). The actions noted above are an apparent attempt to interfere with and to induce our Members to breach these contractual obligations to the Conference and to encourage further conference realignment for the financial benefit of ESPN.
"Further, as you also know, Section 20.2 (c) of the Amended the Restated Agreement between the Big 12 Conference and ESPN (the "Telecast Agreement") states that ESPN will not "take any actions likely to impair, or [that are] inconsistent with, the rights Conference has acquired under this Agreement. ESPN acknowledges that Conference's rights herein are valuable, specific and unique." ESPN's recent actions also violate, at a minimum, Section 20.2(c) of the Telecast Agreement.
"The Big 12 Conference demands that ESPN immediately cease and desist all actions that may harm the Conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference's existing Members or any other NCAA Conference regarding the Big 12 Conference's Members, possible conference realignment, or potential financial incentives or outcomes related to possible conference realignment.
"The Big 12 Conference reserves and will enforce all of its rights under the Grant of Rights Agreement and the Telecast Agreement to the full extent of the law and will not allow its business to be interfered with by its business partners or others. Please provide the Big 12 Conference with your written assurances that all such actions will immediately cease and desist by noon central time on July 29, 2021."
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