The University of Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners have accepted an invitation to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) effective in July 2023. This move will make the Big 12 conference a 10-team league, leaving it with just four teams.
The red river rivalry is the name given to the football game between the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners. This year, both teams unanimously accepted an invitation to join the Southeastern Conference.
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Senior Writer for ESPN
- Senior writer for college football
- Author of seven college football books
- The University of Georgia has awarded me a bachelor’s degree.
Texas and Oklahoma’s boards of regents agreed overwhelmingly to officially accept offers to join the SEC, the institutions said on Friday.
During a meeting on Friday, the Oklahoma board of regents authorized the Sooners’ eventual transfer to the SEC, just hours after the Texas board did the same for the Longhorns. It wraps off a week of ceremonies that will see the SEC become the first 16-team superconference.
In a statement, Texas president Jay Hartzell stated, “This is the right choice at the right moment for the future of our UT sports programs.”
The next stage is to figure out when the transfer will take place, as well as what will happen to the eight Big 12 institutions that will be left behind. Texas and Oklahoma released a joint statement on Monday stating they want to stay in the Big 12 until June 30, 2025, when the current media rights agreement ends, but it’s conceivable the schools could try to leave sooner. To breach the deal, each institution would have to pay a penalty of $75 million to $80 million or hope that the Big 12 disbands before the pact ends.
“We informed the Big 12 that we want to respect our existing agreement,” Hartzell said, “while also understanding that giving the conference notice now is the most equitable approach to enable the league to prepare for its future beyond 2025.”
Oklahoma president Joseph Harroz Jr. and sports director Joe Castiglione both said that the Big 12 will be honored until June 2025.
“It became clear after careful thought and research that staying the course would mean falling behind,” Castiglione stated. “It would place our program in a dangerous situation, both financially and competitively. We’d have to play catch-up with our competitors as a result.”
Harroz and Castiglione expressed optimism that the Bedlam rivalry with Oklahoma State would continue when the Big 12 media rights agreement expired, and that they would continue to play Texas in Dallas.
Chris Del Conte, the athletic director of the University of Texas, expressed his excitement for the vote, which he had previously refused to comment on.
Del Conte stated, “Today is an exciting day.” “There’s a lot of potential on the horizon, and we’re excited about the possibilities. As we prepare to compete in the Big 12 this fall, we’ll be competing as hard as ever, aiming to be champions on and off the field, and representing our conference with the pride and passion that our Texas Longhorns are known for. We have a long and illustrious history, and we will compete honorably as Big 12 members while we prepare for our future in the SEC in 2025.”
When it came to media rights talks, Harroz said it became apparent to the OU administration that the Big 12 was “last in line.” He said that conference football games start at 11 a.m.
“This translates to challenges in attracting top talent, challenges for our student-athletes, and a negative impact on the spectator experience,” he said.
The 14 SEC presidents and chancellors unanimously agreed to issue invitations to Big 12 co-founders Oklahoma and Texas to join the league on Thursday.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement on Friday that “this is an important moment for the long-term survival of the Southeastern Conference and our member institutions.” “Oklahoma and Texas are excellent academic schools with two great sports programs, enhancing the SEC’s national reputation.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Thursday that the SEC’s announcement “reaffirms that these plans have been in the works with ongoing discussions between the parties and television partner for some time,” after accusing ESPN of “manipulating other conferences to go after our members” on Wednesday.
“We are unhappy that these talks progressed so far without notification to, or participation of, other Big 12 members,” Bowlsby said in a statement. “Despite our worries about the process and the general health of collegiate sports, we will do all we can to ensure that the student-athletes at both institutions have a positive experience for the remainder of their participation and competition in the Big 12 Conference.”
ESPN said it “engaged in no unlawful behavior” in response to Bowlsby’s accusations earlier Thursday.
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