Big 12 News

Big 12 Administrator on OU, Texas: ‘They Want to Go, and We Want Them to Go’

This week, reports have surfaced indicating that Oklahoma and Texas’ bid to leave the Big 12 ahead of the 2024 season has been rejected.

According to a tweet from ESPN’s Pete Thamel, the Longhorns and Sooners could not come to an agreement with the Big 12 “amid complex negotiations” between the two schools, the Big 12, and its television networks (ESPN and FOX).

The basis on which the teams are being held from moving to the SEC is regarding the Big 12’s television partners and what they are receiving in exchange for the two teams’ departures.


With all of this going on, tensions between the “Hateful Eight” and the “Big Two” have continually risen. The remaining Big 12 teams feel slighted, as they should, as the teams that have shared a conference with them since 1996 are suddenly jumping ship for a bigger slice of the pie. Meanwhile, the Sooners and Longhorns are just ready to get on with the future but have prior engagements that they need to tend to first if the television partners will allow it.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, the new members of the Big 12 (BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF) arriving in 2023 did not make Oklahoma or Texas happy, because it meant playing them for two seasons under the current grant of rights. In fact, neither Oklahoma or Texas voted on the matter to bring them in.

“We didn’t have a vote, and now we have to play them?” asks one official.

Tensions didn’t stop there though. In December, when the athletic directors met in Las Vegas, things seemed to be a bit—sour.


Since December—when Big 12 ADs met in Las Vegas—the two SEC-bound schools, as well as the eight legacy Big 12 universities, agreed to go their separate ways,” Dellenger writes. “There was a sense from both sides that the sooner they split, the better.

“Take, for instance, this recent comment from a Big 12 administrator: ‘They want to go, and we want them to go.'”

So, if the two schools want to go, and the remaining eight schools want them to leave, then what’s the hold-up?

Well, there is the media rights contract. ESPN and FOX hold the linear broadcast rights to the Big 12 through the end of the 2024 athletic year. ESPN owns 63% of the value of the new deal (worth $2.3 billion) that begins in 2025. Meanwhile, FOX owns 37% of the value in the new deal, and because of that, would only receive about that percentage of the “top games” in a given season.


“Fox is the one who could potentially be harmed,” Bob Thompson, former president of FOX, says. “Fox is going to want its pound of flesh. That can be accomplished in two ways: one, ESPN and Fox work out a trade of some sort; two, the conference, through the penalty fees from OU and Texas, compensate Fox.”

There’s also the 99-year agreement that schools signed in 2012, agreeing to stick together for the duration of the agreement. To get out of that deal costs two years’ worth of revenue, or around $80 million each.

According to Dellenger, the media rights deal is the major hurdle at the moment, but both issues have a role in keeping the Sooners and Longhorns grounded.

“Everybody, conceptually, is pretty close to a deal,” a Big 12 source told SI. “The hangup is Fox wants some inventory. If they get that figured out, they’re on the one-yard line.”

It’s a matter of time, whether it’s in 2024 or 2025, and the break-up will happen—and that’s what’s best for everyone.

“It’s time to move on,” says one Big 12 administrator. “Best for everybody is just to move on.”

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