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Report: OU, Texas Will Not Renew Big 12 Media Contracts, Will Petition SEC for Membership

AllSooners
AllSooners
 2021-07-22
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A report out of Dallas on Wednesday night supports rumors and earlier reports that Oklahoma and Texas are looking to get out of the Big 12 Conference.

Jason Whitely, senior reporter at DFW television station WFAA, tweeted that OU and Texas will send a letter to the Big 12 early next week stating that neither school intends to renew their current media contracts when they expire in 2025, and that both schools will then petition the Southeastern Conference for membership.

The Houston Chronicle reported earlier Wednesday that OU and Texas had “reached out” to the SEC about joining the league and that an announcement could be coming “within a couple of weeks.”

Oklahoma issued a tepid statement, while Oklahoma State followed suit with a more forceful sentiment, saying it would be “gravely disappointed” if the Chronicle report was true.

The Big 12’s grant-of-rights — the contract that binds members’ broadcast rights to the conference if a school leaves for another league — and its existing television rights deals expire after the 2024-25 academic year.

It seems likely, however, that if OU and Texas wanted out of the Big 12, they could make it happen sooner than 2025.

SI’s Pat Forde said on the Yahoo! Sports College Podcast last week that the Big 12 tried to initiate talks to renegotiate with its TV partners recently, but the networks declined.

While the grant-of-rights and long-term TV contracts created unity and stability back in 2012-13, the league getting shut down by its network partners may have created an environment in which big players like Oklahoma and Texas felt the need to keep an eye on the horizon.

It probably didn't help that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby last week didn't exactly express support for OU athletic director Joe Castiglione's "bitter disappointment" over the Sooners' 11 a.m. kickoff with Nebraska on Sept. 18, a commemoration of the 1971 "Game of the Century" that Castiglione has been planning for nearly a decade.

While the SEC has won the college football national championship 11 times in the last 15 years, it's also an attractive conference financially.

In May, the Big 12 announced a revenue split of $34.5 million per school, or $345 million, down for the second straight year — this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of championships such as the NCAA basketball tournaments. The shortfall of about $50 million was also due to loss of football inventory during the 2020 season, with fewer games to broadcast. The conference also didn’t land a team in the College Football Playoff.

Meanwhile the SEC in February announced per-school revenue distribution of about $45.5 million, or $637.7 million, for fiscal year 2019-2020. SEC schools averaged $44.6 million in 2018-19.

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