Following days of statewide speculation and SEC leadership talks, Texas and Oklahoma announced their intentions to leave the Big 12 on Monday morning. In a statement, the programs said they would not renew their grant of rights agreement past its expiration in 2025.
Though the exact timetable for the transition remains unknown, the decision paves the way for the schools to move to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The nation’s premier college football conference already includes some of the most prestigious names in college football such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana State, but the additions of Oklahoma and Texas would carry great financial and competitive consequences. The SEC requires ratification from 11 of its 14 universities and so far, Texas A&M alone has voiced public opposition.
“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Ross Bjork, the school’s athletic director, stated last week. He said the university should “have our own stand-alone identity in our own conference.”
The planned exits of Texas and Oklahoma would have drastic effects on the remaining Texas schools that are a part of the conference, including TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech. A group of Texas lawmakers filed legislation Friday that would prohibit Texas public colleges and universities from switching their affiliations with collegiate athletic conferences without approval from the Legislature.
Filed by state Rep. Dustin Burrows, House Bill 298 has drawn support from more than 30 co-authors, though it is unlikely to be passed into law.
“Texas lauds some of the finest universities and athletic programs in the nation,” Burrows said in a statement. “Their impact reaches far beyond their superiority in the classroom, distinction in research, and excellence on the field. They play a significant role in the economic development, tourism, and overall prominence of their respective regions. A decision to switch to a different athletic conference affects the opportunity and stability of our publicly-funded universities across the state and must be fully vetted in the most transparent and comprehensive manner possible.”