Oklahoma Joins Texas, Announces Plans to Leave Big 12 Conference

The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin announced on Monday they will not be renewing their media rights with the Big 12 Conference, indicating the schools first step in leaving the conference.

"The University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025," the two schools said in a joint statement. "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 joint statement continued, "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 joint statement by both schools comes shortly after it was reported they both planned to leave the Big 12 Conference and instead join the Southeastern Conference [SEC]. The possible move to the SEC was first reported by the Houston Chronicle, citing anonymous sources close to the situation.

Following the report from the Chronicle, both SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey and a spokesperson for the University of Texas downplayed the possible move.

"I'm not going to comment on speculation," Sankey said.

A spokesperson for the University of Texas told the Chronicle that "Speculation always swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation."

In a statement sent to Newsweek, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said, "Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently."

The statement continued, "The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions' efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships. Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond. The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future."

According to ESPN, following the announcement by Texas and Oklahoma, the next step lies on the SEC's presidents, who will need to vote in favor of inviting both schools to their conference.

As ESPN reported, the decision by Texas and Oklahoma may cost both schools if they decide to leave the Big 12 Conference before the media rights contracts expire in 2025.

"The league's bylaws state that departing schools agree to forfeit two years' of media distributions, which might be as much as $75 million for each," ESPN reported.

If the SEC decides to extend the invite to Texas and Oklahoma, it will not be the first time teams have left the Big 12 Conference.

In 2011, the University of Nebraska left the Big 12 to join the Big Ten conference and the University of Colorado left to join the Pac 12 Conference. Additionally, both Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri left the Big 12 in 2012 to join the SEC.

Texas and Oklahoma Plan to Leave Big12
The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin announced on Monday the schools will not renew their media rights with the Big 12 conference, indicating the school's plans to leave the conference. The two schools plan to join the Southeastern Conference [SEC]. Tim Warner/Getty

Updated 07/26/2021, 2:47 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.