Originally published July 27, 2021 at 10:42a.m., updated July 27, 2021 at 12:22p.m.

Big 12’s Texas, Oklahoma make request to join powerhouse SEC

Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby says league will remain 'vibrant and successful'

The SEC logo is displayed at the Hyatt Regency hotel, site of the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Monday, July 19, 2021, in Hoover, Ala.

The SEC logo is displayed at the Hyatt Regency hotel, site of the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Monday, July 19, 2021, in Hoover, Ala.


Texas and Oklahoma made a request Tuesday to join the powerhouse Southeastern Conference, with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey saying the league would consider it in the “near future.”

A day after the Big 12 schools notified the league that they would not be extending an agreement that binds conference members to 2025, the schools publicly stated for the first time they want to join the SEC.

Oklahoma and Texas sent a joint letter to Sankey, requesting “invitations for membership to the Southeastern Conference starting on July 1, 2025.”

“We believe that there would be mutual benefit to the universities on the one hand, and the SEC on the other hand, for the universities to become members of the SEC. We look forward to the prospect of discussions regarding this matter," the schools said in a letter signed by each university's president.

Oklahoma and Texas are bound to the Big 12 and its eight other members through the 2024-25 school year by a grant of media rights that runs concurrent with the conference's billion-dollar television deals with ESPN and Fox.

Joining another conference before the grant of rights expires would cost the schools tens of millions of dollars per year in relinquished revenue and possibly exit penalties.

Competing in the conference as a lame duck for four more seasons doesn't benefit the schools and isn't ideal for the Big 12, either. If the conference is going to survive, it needs to begin rebuilding soon to show stability heading into negotiations for its next television contract.

In a statement early Tuesday afternoon, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby acknowledged OU's and Texas' request to join the SEC and spoke of the Big 12 surviving well into the future.

"The events of recent days have verified that the two schools have been contemplating and planning for the transition for months and this formal application is the culmination of those processes," Bowlsby said in the statement. "We are unwavering in the belief that the Big 12 provides an outstanding platform for its members’ athletic and academic success. We will face the challenges head-on, and we have confidence that the Big 12 will continue to be a vibrant and successful entity in the near term and into the foreseeable future."

Meanwhile, the SEC is poised to grow to 16 teams with the additions of Texas and Oklahoma, half of which have won at least one national championship in football since 1980.

The SEC's most recent television contract with ESPN, set to take effect in 2024, is expected to increase revenue distribution to its member schools to about $67 million per year.

The Big 12 was approaching distributions of $40 million per school before the pandemic led to distributions dropping to $34.5 million per school this year.

The news broke last week at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, that Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12's flagships universities, had been discussing a possible move with Southeastern Conference officials. The Houston Chronicle was first to report the intended jump, but neither the schools nor the SEC would publicly confirm the parties had been in discussions.

“While the SEC has not proactively sought new members, we will pursue significant change when there is a clear consensus among our members that such actions will further enrich the experiences of our student-athletes and lead to greater academic and athletic achievement across our campuses,” Sankey said.

SEC bylaws state at least three-fourth of its members (11 of 14) must vote in favor of extending an invitation for membership.

Texas A&M; joined the conference in 2011 along with Missouri in the SEC's most recent expansion. A&M; initially voiced concerns about allowing an in-state rival to join the conference, but athletic director Ross Bjork has since suggested his school would not shy away from added competition.

The boards of regents at Texas and Oklahoma each announced Tuesday that meetings would be convened Friday with conference affiliation on both the agendas.

The Big 12 was created from a merger of sorts between the Big Eight and Southwestern Conference in 1994 and began play in 1996. Texas and Oklahoma are the conference's most notable brands. They have the richest and most successful athletic departments, and they are the only Big 12 schools to win national college football championships.


Rodney Crain 11 months ago

Yeah!!! You guys are going to Love IT in the SEC. Sure the cash is nice, but they play decent Football and Basketball. It will be a wonderful change of pace for you. Enjoy! It will be interesting to see if Texas is allowed to keep their Longhorn network. If Alabama doesn't have one not sure how that is going to work. The SEC Cable channel and ESPN have them covered. Got to get by that sticky vote to get in too. Do you two have a fallback plan? How does this work with SEC-B12 MBB games in Jan., do TX and OU just let them win till they leave the conference to gain favor? :)

Spencer Goff 11 months ago

ESPN already declined to renew the Longhorn Network after this contract, one of the reasons Texas started having wandering eyes.

Well, "more" wandering eyes.

Armen Kurdian 11 months ago

Like Nick Nolte in Blue Chips said, it's all about money. Just G D money. Money means more than rivalries, loyalty, etc. I'm all about the free market, but college athletics is a little bit of a different animal. You need competition. You need rivalries. More power concentrated in the hands of fewer is bad for college sports.

UT & OU should be rightly booed out of the Field House and Stadium next time they come and play.

John Strayer 11 months ago

too bad the upside down hook 'em hand gesture is now an un-sportsmanship penalty. Rules should allow that for the next 4 years.

Spencer Goff 11 months ago

So one issue I have with college athletics going forward (you feel the irony of "one" issue?) is the combined new NLI and transfer portal.

The NLI is law, it will remain and it should, and I have argued for years that it was unconstitutional to not allow somebody to profit off themselves. However, when combined with the transfer portal protocol, it creates a system where the rich will get richer every year. Need that cornerback from KU, BOOM now he plays for Georgia!

Greg Sankey knows this, Nick Saban knows this, Chris Beard knew this when he went to UT over TTech.

So there needs to be some kind of contractual limitations. What I was thinking was if a player signs any kind of endorsement while at "School A" they cannot transfer for a specified timeframe. Something like 18-24 months.

But this requires forward, honest and beneficial thinking for all parties involved. And right now, that is dead on arrival in the current atmosphere of college athletics.

Rae Bricil 11 months ago

agreed--unless there is a coaching change then any athlete should be able to leave within the same time frame as the coach.

Pamela Shanks 11 months ago

On the up side, in the not to distant future we'll all have a LOT less "Boomer Sooner" in our lives. Since that is the only song OU's band knows how to play (?) or is willing to play, that monotonous little ditty will be moving on to irritate one and all in the SEC.

Waylon Cook 11 months ago

I cannot wait to listen to Sooner radio after some long road trips..

Brendan Connolly 11 months ago

I think with the NIL you have to go to a system of either or. If you accept licensing you pay your school tuition. If not you are on scholarship. If you are Alabama and your QB is netting $1.5 million a year why does he need another $45,000 scholarship. The swimmer at Emporia State....sure they need it. Maybe a compromise on the rule would be Freshman year players get scholarship and after that if they sign license agreements they pay their way.

Nick Saban was talking about how unequal it is going to be. You are going to have a situation where there is some 2nd string OL that is getting nothing and the QB is making $1 million+. and being a jerk flashing the money and acting the fool. The first string OL gets hurt and suddenly that 2nd string guy is taking snaps across the line from some beast all american DT and pissed at QB. Oh no....I missed that block.

Spencer Goff 11 months ago

Pretty sad when Saban was one of the people raising a red flag about fairness, since he will be one of the ones able to abuse it the most.

Brendan Connolly 11 months ago

It's a pretty honest assessment by him. There is an old movie in the 1980's called Johnny Be Good. It's about a star QB out of some small town that could be anywhere in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas...wherever. I think it was poking fun at SMU.

David Friend 11 months ago

Bowlsby is clueless and whoever takes his lead will be left behind. The Big 12 dissolving was inevitable 5 years ago.

Robert Brock 11 months ago

Mental health authorities need to keep an eye on Bowlsby.

Marc Frey 11 months ago

UT will never play for Football NC while in the SEC. OU. Doubtful.

Waylon Cook 11 months ago

Hell, they rarely did in the Big 12. "BCS call" may have helped them be ready for their title the next season as well!

Jonathan Allison 11 months ago

Vince Young was a force of nature both years, but we really did have them on the ropes in memorial stadium and I really think that we would have beaten them if not for that call. They went on to win a close bowl game victory over Michigan if I remember correctly and then dominated all year the next year all the way to winning an exciting title game against the Southern Cal dynasty. A game that may have been decided by a missed call when VY's knee may have touched the ground undetected as UT would go on to score and win the game.

I doubt that a loss to KU in November of 04 would have slowed down their march to the BCS title in January of 06,

Jeff Coffman 11 months ago

That call made KU $1.2mm. UT ended up going to a BCS game and we got 10% of that payout.

Robert Lofthouse 11 months ago

What more incentive does the FB coaching staff have to succeed, with Lance leading the way?

What does the FB team have to lose?

Go all in and leave it all on the field.

Don't hold back on anything!

Attack! Play like you've got something to prove!

Win a couple of games!

Ted Hume 11 months ago

As it's been pointed out already, the playoff system's impending move to a 8- or 12-team format was A DEALBREAKER for this move to make sense. Neither UT or OU would be seeing another playoff or NC shot again for a long long time under the old one. Too bad really

Jeff Coffman 11 months ago

I'm not sure they are comparing apples to apples in the financials. If I remember right the Big12 retains their Tier 3 rights, but the SEC does not. Basically, when they state the SEC is getting $46mm and the B12 is getting $34.5. If I remember right the Longhorn was getting $15, so technically UT was making more. KU I think gets $9, so we are just a couple of million off.

However, if we can get in the Big 10...sign tomorrow.

Additionally, my prediction is KU and BYU will be in the BIG 10.

WVU will likely get into the ACC.

4 of the 7 remaining Big12 teams will end up in the PAC.

3 will figure it out...ISU, TCU, and KSU are the three I have the most concern about (media rights remember is the big selling point)

Bville Hawk 11 months ago

Jeff, the Big 10 seems to favor state universities and AAU members. My prediction would be KU and either ISU or MU to the Big 10.

Jeff Coffman 11 months ago

Normally I would agree, but I don't think MU is going to leave the SEC in hopes of getting into the Big10.

I'm not sure what the negotiating power for Iowa State is. With Iowa already in the conference, they aren't going to get more TV sets and the Iowa/Iowa State game is already played. I think Iowa is going to be hard sell and I think they should be trying to position themselves into the ACC more than WVU, they likely have a better marketing plan to get there.

Mike Nicco 11 months ago

My thoughts, exactly:

Texas has the worst win return compared to budget size. KU’s isn’t good either. What backwards logic says let’s go to a more competitive conference so we can win titles?

Kenneth Johnson 11 months ago

Here’s my take on the Texas/Oklahoma proposed departure from the Big 12: Good riddance! Texas has been nothing but trouble for the league from the beginning. They’ve never been a team player, starting with their creation of their own TV network, rather than working with the others to create a Big 12 TV network. Also, when the Big 12 was formed, they were the reason that the former history of the league was ignored on the new league web site, mainly because Texas wasn’t in the Big 8 or its predecessors. So the Big 12 should sue those two schools for criminal negligence, taking them for whatever the league can get out of them, kick them out of the league, and say ‘good bye’ traitors. And, while they are at it, kick West Virginia out too. They’ve been nothing but a huge travel expense for the other teams and their fans. Then the Big 12 should invite Colorado, Nebraska, and Missouri back to the league, where they belong. If that doesn’t work, then KU and Iowa State should join the Big 10 - a league that has always worked well together. And, while I’m at it, the Big 12 should fire Bowlsby, who has been asleep on the job for years, and is perhaps the real reason why TU and OU are leaving. He’s probably also the reason why Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M left as well.

Kenn Johnson, Ph.D., (KU MS ’70) Author of Kansas University Basketball Legends (2013) and More University of Kansas Basketball Legends (2014), both published by The History Press, and available at KU Bookstores and Amazon.

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