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Texas, Oklahoma take first official step to leave Big 12 for SEC

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Texas and Oklahoma took the first official step Monday to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.

In a joint statement, Texas and Oklahoma said they have informed the Big 12 they do not intend to extend their grant of media rights past their current expiration in 2025. Texas and Oklahoma had to make their intentions clear to the Big 12 before the SEC admission process could move forward.

“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 two schools said. “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.”

That statement implies the two schools would stay in the Big 12 through the 2024 season though the perception within college football is that is highly unlikely. It’d be an awkward arrangement to have to spend four more seasons in a conference that knows both are on the way out.

Now that the two schools have notified the Big 12, they can petition to join the SEC in a process that is expected to move quickly. The Houston Chronicle first reported last week Texas and Oklahoma had inquired about joining the SEC while Alabama Media Group first reported the two schools had already taken steps to facilitate a move out of the Big 12 into the SEC. That process happened in the shadows before last Wednesday, with every step now facing significant public attention and scrutiny.

SEC bylaws state that at least 75 percent of the conference membership (11 of the 14 schools) must approve any new member’s admission, though there had been a long-standing unofficial policy that one school could be enough to kill the process as former Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin explained last week. Texas A&M has been the biggest vocal opponent to the SEC adding Texas and Oklahoma with athletic director Ross Bjork saying shortly after the news broke that Texas A&M wanted to be the only Texas school in the SEC. Still, that is not expected to derail a deal that would bring two of college football’s most well-known programs into the SEC.

After Texas and Oklahoma formally apply for membership, a vote will be scheduled of the SEC’s presidents and chancellors. The expectation is that Texas and Oklahoma will both be offered admission into the conference.