The vote among member schools was unanimous.
“The Presidents and Chancellors of the Southeastern Conference on Thursday voted unanimously today to extend membership invitations to the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas to join the SEC effective July 1, 2025, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2025-26 academic year,” the SEC stated.
While UT’s departure from the Big 12 athletic conference was all but guaranteed, the unanimous vote may come as a surprise. Amid news that UT would begin extricating itself from the Big 12, Texas A&M officials told press that the system would vote against admitting UT to the SEC.
UT’s admission to the SEC means the school will face Texas A&M again — rekindling a historic rivalry that has lain dormant since the state’s two largest public schools last met on the football field in 2011.
However, the move will also damage the Big 12.
UT is a major golden goose for the conference, thanks to the attention its athletics programs earn compared to other schools like Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Top brass from both universities lamented the rumors of UT’s departure.
“Like many across our state and within the footprint of our league, I’ve been extremely disappointed by the actions and intentions of our friends in Austin and Norman,” Texas Tech Chancellor Tedd Mitchell wrote.
“From day one of the Big 12 Conference’s existence, Texas Tech has been a proud and trustworthy partner.”
Though the Big 12 weathered the loss of Texas A&M a decade ago, speculation has swirled about a potential end to the league. The eight remaining schools in the Big 12 may be absorbed into the American Athletic Conference.
Big 12 leadership have accused ESPN of willfully trying to break up the conference “to result in financial benefit for ESPN.” If the Big 12 dissolves, its television contract with ESPN would dissolve with it, potentially saving ESPN millions. One Big 12 leader told the Dallas Morning News that he suspects ESPN directly influenced the departure of the Longhorns and Sooners to the SEC.
ESPN has denied the allegations, calling them “entirely without merit.”
Meanwhile, before UT’s move became official today, some Texas lawmakers decried the rumors as an unpleasant surprise and tried to wield government power to keep UT in place.
State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) suggested using some state funding for UT to buy down property tax rates across the state. Burrows also reportedly joined Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) as well as state Reps. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) and Jeff Leach (R-Plano) in asking Governor Greg Abbott to intervene.
Burrows and other lawmakers filed bills to make Texas public universities get the green light from the legislature before jumping conferences. However, since Abbott did not prioritize it for the special session last month, the legislation has little chance of movement.
Nonetheless, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick created a special committee to study the potential financial impacts of UT’s departure: the Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas.
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