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UT and OU make it official: Schools send letter to Big 12 showing intent to leave conference

UT President Jay Hartzell met with Big 12 officials on Sunday.

AUSTIN, Texas — After days of rumors, the University of Texas has officially taken its first step toward leaving the Big 12 Conference for the SEC.

UT officials formally notified the Big 12 on Monday that the school does not wish to extend its grant of television rights beyond the 2024-25 athletic year, according to a joint statement released with the University of Oklahoma.

The statement reads in full

"The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Oklahoma notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. 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 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."

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby released a response Monday afternoon, saying the eight remaining schools in the conference are disappointed. His response reads in full: 

"Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognized that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently. 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."

This comes one day after Big 12 officials announced they had met with the presidents of the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas.

"The meeting was cordial, and the Executive Committee expressed a willingness to discuss proposals that would strengthen the Conference and be mutually beneficial to OU and UT, as well as the other member institutions of the Conference," Bowlsby said in a press release. "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."

The whirlwind speculation began with a report from the Houston Chronicle citing anonymous sources that told the publication that UT and OU had inquired with the SEC about leaving the Big 12. The prospect of OU and UT leaving the Big 12 has sparked conversations about that starting a domino effect, effectively ending the Big 12 Conference as we know it. 

The Board of Regents at Texas A&M are also reportedly meeting on Monday for "discussion and possible action on contractual and governance issues relating to Texas A&M University and the Southeastern Conference." Texas A&M’s athletics director has said they would like to remain the only Texas team in the SEC.

Next, UT officials will need to formally ask the SEC to join its 14-member league. A new school attempting to join the conference must get 11 schools to vote yes. Four no votes would deny expansion. 

For now, UT and OU remain members of the Big 12 through at least the 2024-25 athletic year, according to KVUE media partners at the Austin American-Statesman. The Statesman reported that the Big 12 asked its members to sign a five-year extension, but UT hesitated to commit to that extension and began pursuing other options, including switching conferences.

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