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With eye on SEC, Oklahoma, Texas move toward leaving Big 12

by RALPH D. RUSSO AP College Football Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oklahoma and Texas took the first formal step Monday toward moving to the Southeastern Conference, notifying the Big 12 they would not be renewing an agreement that binds the league’s members through 2025.

The schools sent out a joint statement that made no mention of the SEC and said “the universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements.”

The “grant of rights” gives the conference control of the school’s media rights and runs concurrently with the Big 12s television contracts with ESPN and Fox, which expire in 2025.

The Big 12’s TV deals make up the bulk of the conference’s revenue. The conference distributed $345 million to its 10 members this year ($34.5 million apiece), down from the previous year because of the pandemic.

The SEC announced an average payout to each of its members of $44.6 million in January.

Texas and Oklahoma have been in discussions with the SEC about joining the league, though neither school nor the powerhouse conference has acknowledged that publicly.

Joining another conference with the grant of rights still in effect is a nonstarter. Texas and Oklahoma would bring no value to their new conference and it would cost the schools tens of millions of dollars per year.

The Big 12 announced Sunday that its executive committee, including Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, held a video conference with the presidents of Texas and Oklahoma.

The remaining eight Big 12 schools — Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia —- are still hoping to persuade the conference’s flagships schools to stay put.

Without Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12 is in danger of falling apart. Even if it were to stay together by adding other schools, the value of the league would likely be severely diminished when it goes looking for its next television contract.