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#pounditFriday, June 14, 2024

Report: SEC could undergo major change sooner than expected

Greg Sankey at a press conference

July 15, 2019; Birmingham, AL, USA; SEC commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to the media during SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency-Birmingham. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma and Texas have an agreement in place with the SEC ahead of the 2025 season, but the schools and conference continue to explore ways to begin their marriage sooner.

Brett McMurphy of Action Network reported on Monday that there is “growing sentiment” and “momentum” for Oklahoma and Texas to leave the Big 12 and join the SEC in 2024. The two schools have said they are committed to remaining in the Big 12 until the current Grant of Rights expires on July 1, 2025, but all parties would prefer for the split to happen sooner. Television rights is still the largest remaining obstacle.

The Big 12’s bylaws state that schools that leave the conference must pay an exit fee the sum of the league’s distribution for two years, which is roughly $84 million. As McMurphy notes, that figure is typically negotiated down to about 60 percent, which would be $50 million each for Oklahoma and Texas in this instance. The schools have been engaged in negotiations with the Big 12 for months about the exit fee, though no agreement has been reached.

Whether Oklahoma and Texas join the SEC in 2024 or 2025 may ultimately be up to ESPN. ESPN’s new 10-year media rights megadeal with the SEC begins in 2024. As part of that deal, ESPN must pay each SEC school a sum of money. If Oklahoma and Texas join the SEC a year early, ESPN would have to pay more. The move could also impact viewership for the Big 12 in 2024, which is the final year of ESPN’s current media rights deal with the Big 12.

There are scenarios that could help offset the cost for ESPN. One would be for Oklahoma and Texas to schedule nonconference road games at Big 12 teams in 2024, in which case those games would be aired on ESPN.

Another TV network may also want to be compensated if OU and Texas bolt for the SEC a year early.

As you can see, there are a lot of financial factors at play. One thing we know for certain is that big changes are coming to the SEC once Oklahoma and Texas join.

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