87th LegislatureEducationUT, Big 12 Confirm Official First Steps of Split

In their first announcements since rumors broke, UT said it began its departure from the Big 12. The conference confirmed a meeting took place.
July 26, 2021
The University of Texas (UT) appears to have taken its first official step away from the Big 12.

UT released a joint statement with the University of Oklahoma (OU), which also putatively plans on leaving the Big 12 athletic conference, announcing the end of their media rights agreement.

Though the statement stops just shy of announcing an official departure for the Southeastern Conference (SEC), it marks the first public moment of official university communication acknowledging a split from the Big 12.

“The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Oklahoma notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. 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 statement reads.

“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.”

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Though hedged, the statement’s public setting and factual substance distinguish it from UT’s camera-shy communication in the past week.

The Houston Chronicle broke the rumors of UT’s planned departure for the SEC on Wednesday, citing anonymous sources. Before today’s statement, neither UT nor OU officially addressed the rumors.

Top brass from both universities did make vague statements avoiding outright confirmation or denial.

“Speculation swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation,” a Texas spokesman reportedly said on Wednesday.

The Big 12 conference itself also broke secrecy yesterday, releasing a short statement on the official website confirming a meeting between conference leadership and both universities.

Joining the SEC would revive UT’s rivalry with Texas A&M. The two teams haven’t met on the football field since the Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2011.

It has also riled a number of Texas politicians, some of whom called for the state legislature to tighten its grip on public universities.

State Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) suggested taking money from UT’s share of the Permanent University Fund and using it to buy down property tax rates around Texas. He also filed a bill to require public universities in Texas to get legislative permission for switching athletic conferences. The bill has an identical twin in the Texas Senate carried by Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), and Beverly Powell (D-Burleson).

Texas A&M isn’t happy, either. University officials have said they would like to keep Texas A&M the only Texas school in the SEC, and Texas A&M reportedly plans to vote against UT’s admission to the conference.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.