Texas and Oklahoma are officially leaving the Big 12.
The schools’ board of regents unanimously voted Friday to accept invitations into the Southeastern Conference when the Big 12’s current grant-of-rights media agreements expire following the 2024-25 school year.
As UT and OU celebrated a historic day in their respective school’s history, the athletic directors of the remaining eight Big 12 schools met on a conference call.
The league remains committed to not panicking and sticking together, a source confirmed. There’s still raw emotion after being jilted by Texas and Oklahoma, and the eight schools are willing to let Big 12 brass explore and evaluate options for the future.
At least for the time being.
There’s no question the eight schools remain united in not letting UT and OU exit early without paying the buyout in the $80 million range. If UT and OU refuse to pay, the league will gladly keep them on board for the next four years.
For now, everybody is saying all the right things.
“We shouldn’t go forward without appreciating where we’ve been and where we are,” said UT athletic director Chris Del Conte, who served in the same capacity for eight years at TCU. “2021 will be our 26th year in the Big 12, and we’ve had so many great experiences and memories and will continue to engage in competition and work with many great colleagues in our league going forward through our contract that runs until 2025.
“I personally have made many great friendships in the Big 12. I have respect, admiration, and appreciation for them. I look forward to continuing that.”
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione talked about how important his relationships with Big 12 colleagues meant to him during his remarks during OU’s meeting.
Those statements likely didn’t sit well with others around the league. Nobody is going to forget or forgive the two flagships for bolting to the SEC, leaving the Big 12 on life support.
It’s a sad day for many Big 12 fans throughout the region. Kansas City prides itself on hosting the Big 12 basketball tournament every March. The football championship has found a home at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Oklahomans have a vested interest in the Bedlam Series that very well could see its days drawing to a close. Kansas State and Iowa State have formed a rivalry known as “Farmageddon.” And the list goes on.
Time will tell whether those events survive the latest shake-up. Maybe the Big 12 can be salvaged through its own expansion. Or maybe schools depart and find homes in other leagues.
Either way, the Big 12 is moving forward knowing that the change in conference affiliation by Texas and Oklahoma is officially no longer a question of if. It is now only a question of when.
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