OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Almost three dozen Oklahoma House representatives sent a letter to the University of Oklahoma Thursday that voiced disappointment with the way they went about getting into the Southeastern Conference.
It’s a move drawing both criticism and praise through a controversial process that has gripped football fans for the past week. Now, OU and the University of Texas are one step closer to leaving the Big XII behind with the SEC officially extending an invitation to the two powerhouses Thursday afternoon to join the league.
The gridiron battle has now made its way to the Oklahoma State Capitol, with 34 lawmakers expressing their disappointment in a letter to OU.
The author of the letter, Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, said it’s not the move itself that brought he and others to sign and send the letter. Instead, he said it was the way it all went down. He said the legislature wants to make sure both schools, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, are “in a position of success.”
“For those who maybe are not as in tune to sports or don’t care as much about sports, maybe this may not seem like a big deal, but it really is,” Hilbert said.
The full letter can be read below.
In the letter, Hilbert and those who signed it claimed the state legislators’ priority is for “…state entities of higher education to work together – not just for what’s best for one institution but looking out for what is best for the state as a whole.”
“It would have been better for there to be a collaborative effort,” Hilbert said.
The letter states that OU worked with Texas instead of OSU. The lawmakers said the university disregarded our state’s “collaborative spirit” and showed a lack of transparency. The letter adds that after the joint press release with Texas notifying their plans to leave, OU chose to “…advance the interests of the University of Texas as a partner instead of working collaboratively with your in-state partner at Oklahoma State University.”
“OU and OSU are both part of the state of Oklahoma and as such should be working to promote each other’s interest, which is the same interest for the state of Oklahoma,” Hilbert said.
The letter also asks for OU to keep “…legislators and the public informed” while adding that the legislature wants to see “…collaboration and parity for our state’s two comprehensive institutions.”
“I want to do what I can to help make sure that not only OSU but OU as well are both in a position for success,” Hilbert said.
Hilbert went on to say he feels both schools are in a good position to succeed. However, he said he has heard of some legislators who want to pass bills next session to block the move to the SEC, though he said he isn’t one of them.
KFOR reached out to OU, but they did not respond to a request for comment. The university’s Board of Regents are set to meet Friday morning to accept the SEC’s invitation to the conference.