Could the Big 12 and the Pac-12 be joining forces in some form as Oklahoma and Texas head to the SEC?
According to The Athletic, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is set to meet with Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff in the wake of the Big 12 powers' announcement they were heading to the SEC. The meeting would be about the ways the conferences can work together in a college sports landscape that's been rocked by OU and UT's decision to leave the Big 12.
That doesn't necessarily mean a conference merger, either. The conferences could look at a scheduling alliance similar to what Notre Dame has with the ACC. From The Athletic:
“At this point, all options are on the table and nothing is a bad option,” one Big 12 source said. “We have to explore everything now. It’s not that we’re in panic mode, but let’s keep talking and keep finding out what’s out there.”
Another Big 12 source expects the Bowlsby-Kliavkoff meeting to be more of an “information download” for the Pac-12’s new commissioner to gain a better sense of what the Big 12’s eight remaining members can bring to the table.
Kliavkoff has expressed a willingness to evaluate expansion for his conference. He said at Pac-12 media day in July that "many schools" had expressed interest in joining the conference. Oklahoma and Texas in the SEC pushes it to 16 schools — the most of any conference in college football.
Bowlsby testifies at Texas Senate hearing on Monday
The reported meeting between the commissioners comes after Bowlsby testified at a college sports hearing in the Texas Senate on Monday. Bowlsby participated in the hearing along with Texas president Jay Hartzell.
“Not withstanding the obvious breach of trust, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin violated the very by-laws they helped to construct," Bowlsby said at the hearing. "Regrettably and inappropriately, these two universities chose to ignore their prior commitments and instead, moved ahead to deceive and undermine the institutions to which they pledged their loyalty.”
Hartzell reiterated that Texas doesn't think it did anything wrong in its discussions to move to the SEC. The Longhorns and Sooners are contractually bound to the Big 12 until 2025, though lawyers for the schools could work to buy out the remainder of the grant of rights agreement to join the SEC at an earlier date.
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