DALLAS — This story has been updated with a statement from the Big 12.
The University of Texas and University of Oklahoma officially notified the Big 12 conference today that neither school will renew their media rights when they expire in 2025, potentially setting off a realignment in collegiate sports across the state.
The universities released a joint-statement on Monday.
"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," the universities said.
"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," they continued. "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."
As WFAA first reported last week, Texas and OU now plan to contact the SEC and apply for acceptance. It will be up to the university presidents of the 14 schools in the SEC to vote on whether to admit Texas and OU. That vote is expected to happen this week.
If accepted, the SEC would become the first 16-team mega league, and a model for the future of college football.
Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, the only Texas team in that conference. Ross Bjork, the athletic director at Texas A&M, said last week that he would like to remain the only Texas team in the SEC.
But the deal for Texas and OU to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC appears unstoppable unless at least four schools vote against accepting Texas and OU. That remains unlikely because of the value Texas and OU will add to the newly-negotiated media rights for each school.
It’s uncertain how Texas A&M will vote or whether it would seek any special benefits to support the deal.
Some state lawmakers privately met with Gov. Greg Abbott last week hoping to persuade him to intervene and convince U.T. to stop the deal, WFAA has learned, but Abbott refused to make that commitment.
In a statement, the Big 12's commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, said although the conference's eight members are "disappointed" with the decision, "we recognize 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," Bowlsby said. "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."
Sources told WFAA that the University of Texas’ plan to leave the Big 12 conference began more than a year ago. But getting the University of Oklahoma to leave the Big 12, as well, makes both teams more valuable to the SEC as a package. Plus, their 117-year old rivalry is also attractive.
The reason for the jump to another conference is all about money. Broadcast contracts with the SEC are more lucrative than contracts in the Big 12.
U.T. Board Chairman Kevin Eltife has long been concerned about the everchanging landscape of collegiate athletics and has worked with the university administration to position the Longhorns for success in the coming era.
With the loss of Texas and OU, the future of the Big 12 conference is now uncertain. Will other teams like TCU, Baylor and Texas Tech also consider leaving? Baylor is in a good position to market itself to other conferences after winning its first NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship this year.
Texas and OU were among the charter members of the Big 12 when the conference began in 1996.