Texas sends critical letter to Big 12 officials, signaling the Longhorns intend to leave for SEC
Hookem, posted on the Lafayette Daily Advertiser website, July 25, 2021
Athletic Network footnote by Ed Dugas.
The Ragin' Cajuns open the 2012 football season playing Texas in Austin at 3:30 Saturday, September 4.
After days of speculation and bluster, the University of Texas has indeed taken the first step toward leaving the Big 12 and joining the Southeastern Conference.
Texas officials formally notified the Big 12 Conference on Monday the school does not wish to extend its grant of television rights beyond the 2024-25 athletic year, the school said in joint statement with Oklahoma.
“Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement,” UT said in a statement. “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.”
Next, Texas officials would need to formally ask the SEC to join its 14-member league. Any new member must get 11 schools to vote yes; four no votes would deny expansion.
Texas and Oklahoma are not expected to have any problems getting enough votes to join the SEC. It’s possible the SEC could vote on expansion this week, a high-ranking UT source told the Statesman. However, it’s still unclear how fast a 16-team SEC could begin play.
The current Big 12 television contract runs through the 2024-25 athletic year. Texas has “every intention” of honoring its contractual obligation, a Big 12 source familiar with UT’s thinking told the Statesman. It’s possible the Big 12 dissolves quicker, depending on what happens with the remaining eight schools.
The American-Statesman reported last week that this letter to the Big 12 was coming from Texas and would most likely be sent on Monday. Oklahoma officials released the same version of the Texas statement confirming their intensions, too.
Monday’s news comes even after Texas President Jay Harzell and OU’s Joe Harroz met virtually with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the league’s executive committee on Sunday. It had all the hallmarks of a last-gasp meeting.
In a statement, the Big 12 described the meeting as “cordial” as they discussed “proposals that would strengthen the Conference and be mutually beneficial to OU and UT” as well as the league.
“I expect that we will continue our conversations in the days ahead and we look forward to discussing thoughts, ideas and concepts that may be of shared interest and impact,” Bowlsby said in a statement.
Texas merely wants to be a good partner with the Big 12 until the move to the SEC is complete, the high-ranking UT source told the Statesman.
As of now, the Longhorns and Sooners are members of the Big 12 at least through the 2024-25 athletic year. The Big 12 asked its members to sign a five-year extension, sources have told the Statesman, but Texas balked at that idea and began to examine all options, including changing conferences.