SEC extends membership invitations to University of Oklahoma and University of Texas

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The Southeastern Conference says it will send an official invitation to join the conference to two current Big 12 teams.

Last week, rumors began swirling that the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas were looking at options to join the powerful Southeastern Conference.

After hearing of the reports, the University of Oklahoma released a statement saying, “The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly. We don’t address every anonymous rumor.”

OU football

On Sunday, the Big 12 Conference’s Executive Committee met with Oklahoma officials about the university’s future.

“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,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated. “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.”

On Monday, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin released a joint statement regarding media rights and the Big 12 Conference.

“The University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin 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.”

JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA AND UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

One day later, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin formally requested invitations to join the Southeastern Conference, beginning July 1, 2025.

“We believe that there would be mutual benefit to the Universities on the one hand, and the SEC on the other hand, for the Universities to become members of the SEC,” the formal request read.

In a statement, the universities said they “look forward to the prospect of discussions regarding the matter.”

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey released a statement on Twitter, saying the conference would consider the request.

“The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas, two esteemed academic institutions with storied athletics programs, today submitted formal requests for invitations to become members of the Southeastern Conference in 2025. While the SEC has not proactively sought new members, we will pursue significant change when there is a clear consensus among our members that such actions will further enrich the experiences of our student-athletes and lead to greater academic and athletic achievement across our campuses. The Presidents and Chancellors of the SEC, in their capacity as the conference’s Chief Executive Officers, will consider these requests in the near future. Per the Bylaws of the SEC, a vote of at least three-fourths of the SEC’s 14 members is required to extend an invitation for membership.”

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey

On Thursday, presidents and chancellors of the 14 teams in the SEC met to discuss the request by OU and Texas.

During that meeting, they voted unanimously to extend membership invitations to the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas to join the SEC effective July 1, 2025, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2025-26 academic year.

“Today’s unanimous vote is both a testament to the SEC’s longstanding spirit of unity and mutual cooperation, as well as a recognition of the outstanding legacies of academic and athletic excellence established by the Universities of Oklahoma and Texas,” said Commissioner Greg Sankey. “I greatly appreciate the collective efforts of our Presidents and Chancellors in considering and acting upon each school’s membership interest.”

Now the process goes back to the schools. Texas and Oklahoma both have board of regents meetings schedule for Friday with conference affiliation on the agenda. Whether the boards will move to accept the invitations at those meetings is unknown, but it is almost certain they will at some point.

Then the question becomes: Can Texas and Oklahoma find a way to join their new conference sooner than 2025? It has the makings of being a messy divorce with the Big 12.

The conference bylaws state that schools departing before the grant of rights runs out in 2025 are on the hook for penalties worth tens of millions of dollars.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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