Texas and Oklahoma will inform the Big 12 Conference of their intentions to bolt the league for the Southeastern Conference by Monday, as first reported by 247 Sports.
Over the last 48 hours, there’s been no shortage of speculation the Longhorns and Sooners were on their way out and headed to what would become a 16-team SEC.
Big 12 presidents, athletic directors and chancellors partook in a videoconference Thursday to discuss future plans, including the potential value of the remaining eight schools’ to other conferences. Oklahoma and Texas officials were not in on the meeting.
The Houston Chronicle first reported Wednesday both UT and OU had reached out to the SEC inquiring about membership. There has been no denial from either school, though it remains to be seen when they’ll leave the Big 12.
Because Big 12 schools signed a grant-of-rights agreement giving the league their media rights in football and men’s basketball, the conference owns those rights through June 2025. The Big 12 is tied into television contracts with ESPN and Fox that expire in 2025, though Texas and Oklahoma are expected to inform the conference they won’t renew when the grant of rights expire in 2025.
If Oklahoma and Texas wanted to leave the Big 12 before 2025, each school would have to pay the Big 12 approximately $80 million — the equivalent of two years worth of revenue distribution. There could be millions more in the cost of penalties for each school, though in the past such matters have been settled in court, such as when Maryland paid the Atlantic Coast Conference $31 million of a $52 million exit fee after joining the Big Ten in 2014.
The cost of departure likely wouldn’t be a big issue to either school, particularly Texas, which boasts the most profitable athletic department in the nation.
The loss of Oklahoma and Texas would leave the Big 12 with a shaky future at best — and the league would almost certainly have to expand beyond the eight remaining members to stay afloat.
The conference has never been a strong geographical fit for West Virginia, which isn’t within 700 miles of any league foe. The Mountaineers joined the Big 12 more out of necessity in 2012 under then-athletic director Oliver Luck after the Big East disbanded.
Past Big East rivals Pitt, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Boston College, Miami and Louisville moved on to the ACC, which would be a better geographical fit for West Virginia. During the last round of realignment, however, the ACC had a chance to add WVU and did not.
The Big Ten, home to former Big East rival Rutgers as well as past out-of-conference rivals Maryland and Penn State, is the best geographical fit outside of the ACC, should West Virginia seek membership into another Power 5 conference.
It remains to be seen whether the Big Ten, ACC or Pac-12 — the Power 5 conferences in addition to the Big 12 and SEC — will expand should Oklahoma and Texas join the SEC.
The ACC currently has 15 members (14 in football, but Notre Dame in other sports), while the Big Ten and Pac-12 have 14 and 12, respectively.