SEC expansion is officially moving forward.
The presidents of the 14 schools currently in the conference voted to accept the application of Texas and Oklahoma into the SEC. The likely addition of the two Big 12 schools paves the way for the SEC to become a 16-team conference sooner rather than later.
Expansion will become official on Friday when the boards of regents at Oklahoma and Texas approve moving to the SEC.
“Today’s unanimous vote is both a testament to the SEC’s longstanding spirit of unity and mutual cooperation, as well as a recognition of the outstanding legacies of academic and athletic excellence established by the Universities of Oklahoma and Texas,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “I greatly appreciate the collective efforts of our Presidents and Chancellors in considering and acting upon each school’s membership interest.”
How soon the SEC expands will be up to litigation. The Big 12’s current grant of rights currently goes until 2025, meaning that Oklahoma and Texas have multiple years left of Big 12 play. But it seems likely that the schools will work in some capacity to buy out that contract to join the SEC as soon as feasibly possible. That happened in 2012 when Texas A&M and Missouri moved from the Big 12 to the SEC as the SEC expanded to 14 teams.
If you think this expansion has moved quickly in the public eye, you’re not wrong. A report first emerged on July 21 that the two schools were looking to get out of the Big 12 and things publicly accelerated from there. OU and UT officially said they would not be extending the Big 12’s grant of rights on Monday and on Wednesday, Texas A&M said that it wouldn’t dissent to the schools joining the conference.
An expanded SEC is expected to bring in more revenue for each school. SEC schools currently get $45 million a year from the conference via media rights while Big 12 teams receive less than $40 million a year. Revenue topping $50 million per year in the future is easily achievable, especially with ESPN taking over all of the rights to SEC football games after CBS’ current contract expires at the end of 2023.
The move of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC leaves the Big 12 in a precarious position. The conference sent ESPN a cease and desist letter on Wednesday accusing the network of conspiring with another conference to absorb some of the eight remaining teams in the Big 12 after OU and UT depart. The network said Thursday that the Big 12's claims were without merit.
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