The Big 12 executive committee met with the presidents of Texas and Oklahoma on Sunday amid speculation that the two schools intend to depart for the SEC.
Texas’ Jay Hartzell and Oklahoma’s Joe Harroz met via videoconference with the committee, which includes Big 12 Chairman of the Board of Directors and Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec, Baylor president Linda Livingstone and league commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
“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,” Bowlsby said in a statement. “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.”
Big 12 sources told ESPN’s Heather Dinich they are still expecting OU and Texas to formally notify the league on Monday that they don’t intend to extend their existing media rights deals with the conference, which expire in June 2025. While that is the first formal step toward exiting the conference, it also leaves open the possibility that both schools remain in the Big 12 until the deal expires. It’s a possible legal strategy, one source surmised, that would supersede the reality of the fractured relationships it’s bound to cause within the league.
Sources in the Big 12 continue to tell ESPN they are still trying to understand exactly what OU and Texas are looking for. One Big 12 source told ESPN their conference officials are anticipating the SEC presidents and chancellors will eventually vote on whether to formally extend an invitation to OU and Texas. There is no current timetable as to when a vote might happen, according to an SEC source. The question is if the SEC would extend an invitation knowing the legal strategy of Texas and Oklahoma is to stay through the duration of the TV contract — if that’s what those schools choose to do.
There’s also a possibility that Texas will shop itself to other conferences, leaving open at least a slim possibility that the SEC isn’t its final destination.
Big 12 officials originally held a call Thursday to discuss the league’s future, with Texas and Oklahoma absent from the discussion. The two schools would have to give the Big 12 an 18-month notice before formally leaving.
The Big 12 owns Oklahoma’s and Texas’ first- and second-tier media rights for football and men’s basketball until June 30, 2025. The Big 12 would still hold those rights until then even if the schools left for another conference.