Big 12 powerhouses Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the Southeastern Conference regarding future membership, according to a report by the Houston Chronicle.
The Longhorns are soon expected to inform the Big 12 that they do not plan to extend their grant of media rights deal with the conference, according to Stadium's Brett Murphy, who also reports that there is mutual interest about having Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC. The Big 12's grant of rights agreement expires in 2025.
Citing "a high-ranking college official with knowledge of the situation," Brent Zwerneman of the Chronicle was first to report that the SEC could announce the additions of the Longhorns and Sooners "within a couple of weeks."
CBS Sports confirmed that at least Texas has inquired about admission into the SEC — regarded as the nation's most powerful conference.
University of Texas regents chair Kevin Elfite is behind the pitch, sources told CBS Sports.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey would not address the reports Wednesday while at the 2021 SEC Media Days. "No comment on that speculation," he told CBS Sports, adding, "We are only worried about the 2021 season. Somebody dropped a report from unnamed people."
Texas and Oklahoma released similar statements, using words such as "rumors" and "speculation" while refusing the confirm the reports.
Two teams — Texas A&M and Missouri — left the Big 12 for the SEC in the last round of conference realignment nearly a decade ago. Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork made it clear Wednesday that he wants the Aggies to be the only team from the Lone Star State in the SEC.
"I haven't read the article, but if you're asking me to kind of comment on college athletics, it's changing," Bjork told CBS Sports. "So what does that look like? I don't know. We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas. There's a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12: to stand alone to have our own identity."
Texas and Oklahoma have propped up the Big 12 since its reduction to 10 teams in the latest round of realignment, and their departure would put the conference on the brink of collapse, according to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports.
Both teams will face resistance from within the Big 12 and beyond. Oklahoma State officials made it clear they do not support the potential departure.
"We have heard unconfirmed reports that OU and UT approached Southeastern Conference officials about joining the SEC," OSU said in statement, as reported by Dodd. "We are gathering information and will monitor closely. If true, we would be gravely disappointed. While we place a premium on history, loyalty and trust, be assured, we will aggressively defend and advance what is best for Oklahoma State and our strong athletic program, which continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally."
SEC bylaws state that 11 of 14 institutions must vote in the affirmative to invite new members to the conference. Should Texas and Oklahoma join, the SEC would become the nation's first 16-team super conference.