UT & OU to the SEC Early? New Big 12 Developments Could Make it Happen

The Big 12’s announcement of an early start to its media rights talks could be just the ticket for Texas and the OU to move to the SEC by 2025.

The Big 12’s announcement of an early start to its media rights talks could be just the ticket for Texas and the OU to move to the SEC by 2025.

Both Texas and the OU have signed media rights to the Big 12 for the conference to negotiate a TV deal. This Grant of Rights will not expire until June 30, 2025. That’s why both UT and OU have publicly stated that they will move to the SEC in 2025.

However, there is a clause in the rights grant agreement that states:

5. Amend the TV broadcasting rights agreement. The Board of Directors, in consultation with each member agency, must approve any amendment, modification, extension, renewal or replacement of any television rights agreement in accordance with the Bylaws of the General Assembly (the “Bylaws”); provided that the meeting shall not prejudice any award to any television broadcast partner more favorable any amendment, modification, extension, renewal or replacement of the rights of the Television Broadcasting Partner to any Television Broadcast Rights Agreement, or imposes on any Member Institution the following obligations or conditions: restrictions on such Member Institutions are more limited than on the Effective Date (as defined in Below) the restrictions set out in the TV Rights Agreement in force are more stringent without the prior written consent of all member institutions that are members of the conference at the time.

In other words, if I read it correctly (I’m a journalist, not a lawyer), Big 12 cannot enforce new media copyright agreements without the consent of all members.

It’s important to note that even if the Big 12’s rights grant does expire, leaving the Big 12 will still incur an exit fee. This may be the leverage that UTs and OUs need in order to pay the reduced exit fee or have it together to give up.

Dennis Dodds, a college football writer for CBS Sports, said active talks are underway to allow UT and OU to leave the Big 12 early.

“That’s definitely part of the puzzle, this separation of OU-Texas,” said a source familiar with the discussions. “These conversations are definitely happening and progress is being made.”

What’s in the BIG 12?

Big 12 didn’t make this move, and if nothing worked for them, they could lose UT and OU funding.

Ed Desser, a media rights consultant and former NBA TV president, said the Big 12’s decision to strike a new deal early makes sense, even if it means losing UT and OU early. The move will allow the Big 12 to solidify its position in college football while also being able to tap ESPN for more money.

“I think you have a lot of schools saying, ‘We need to plan for the future,'” Deser said. “The price of college sports has readjusted and ESPN didn’t get any of the top 10s. So now, if you’re ESPN, you have to get the remaining conference or two.”

In addition to stabilizing the Big 12, the media deal could also pave the way for future expansion.

“The Big 12’s school lineup has changed significantly, and you want to know exactly what the market is going to take,” said Lee Burke, a media rights consultant who has worked for various NFL, MLB and college teams, including Ou. “If the Big 12 intends to do anything in terms of adding any schools, it’s going to see exactly how they’re going to affect its overall media deal.”

The Pac-12 is also negotiating a new media rights deal with ESPN, and now the two conferences will go head-to-head to see which is more valuable in college football.

“The reality is you have to have TV, you have to have income to attract schools, and you need certainty to do that,” Burke said. “I think that gives the Big 12 certainty and information about what they have to offer their current members and potential new members.”

Speaking at Big 12 media day, Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said the conference was “open.”

The four corner schools, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah, are rumored to be potential Big 12 expansion candidates.

In a perfect world, even without USC and UCLA, these schools might choose to stay in their current conferences. But college football is no longer a perfect world.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren told Bryant Gumbell on HBO’s Real Sports that he could see his conference membership expand from 16 to 20. Aside from Notre Dame, the most obvious candidates are the Pac-12 schools that have been left behind. Oregon, Washington, Stanford, UC all make sense for football and travel partner schools as Olympic sports.

If you’re the principal of one of the four corner schools, it would be an oversight to at least not explore options outside of the Pac-12 if your current session collapses.

No one wants to be Oregon in the conference reorganization game.

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