HOOVER, Ala. Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork stands up for his school after a Houston Chronicle Report that Texas and Oklahoma have contacted the SEC regarding participation in the conference.
The paper quoted an unnamed university official as saying an announcement could come in a few weeks. Both Texas and Oklahoma said they would not address the report.
“There is always speculation around collegiate athletics,” a Texas spokesperson said in a statement. “We don’t go into rumors or speculation.”
Oklahoma said in a statement: “The college athletic landscape is constantly changing. We’re not going to respond to every anonymous rumor.”
Still, Bjork said he will “be diligent in our approach to protecting Texas A&M.”
“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Bjork said. “There’s a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12 — to stand on its own, to have our own identity.”
Texas A&M, along with Missouri, left the Big 12 to join the SEC in 2012.
Bjork said he and fellow SEC athletic directors had not discussed bringing Texas and Oklahoma into the conference. According to the SEC’s bylaws regarding conference membership, “A vote of at least three-quarters of the members is required to extend an invitation to membership,” or in this case 11 out of 14 schools.
Bjork also said he was not aware of any language in Texas A&M’s deal with the SEC that would prohibit the league from adding another team from the state.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he was concerned about the 2021 season and did not address what he described as an “unnamed people report.”
“I’m not going to comment on speculation,” Sankey said.
The state of Oklahoma, calling the reports “unconfirmed,” said it would be “extremely disappointed” if they were true and defend its position.
“While we place a premium on history, loyalty and trust, rest assured we will aggressively defend and promote what is best for the state of Oklahoma and our strong athletic program, which continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally,” the school said. in a statement.
A potential obstacle to such a move, at least in the short term, is that Oklahoma and Texas signed a Big 12 rights grant agreement, granting their first- and second-class football and men’s basketball media rights to the conference through with June 30, 2025. That means the Big 12 still owns those schools’ media rights to those sports — even if they’re no longer members — until the agreement expires.
The Big 12’s TV contracts with ESPN and Fox also expire in 2025. The Longhorn Network’s deal with ESPN runs through 2031.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said, “I bet they would,” when asked what he thought of the possibility Texas and Oklahoma might want to participate in the conference.
“I’m just worried about A&M, you know what I mean?” said Visser. “Look, we’ve got the biggest competition of all… I don’t know what I think.”
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Heather Dinich contributed to this report.
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