In the wake of Oklahoma and Texas’ bid to join the SEC, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent a stern “cease and desist” letter to ESPN on Wednesday.
According to Bowlsby, the sports television network and business partner of the Big 12 has conspired with at least one other conference to induce current Big 12 members to leave. Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger later confirmed the American Athletic Conference is ESPN’s alleged co-conspirator.
Bowlsby also wrote he believes ESPN was potentially involved in Oklahoma and Texas’ plans to depart the Big 12.
OU and Texas announced Monday they would not renew their grant-of-rights agreements with the Big 12 past 2025, and unveiled Tuesday they’ve officially petitioned the SEC for membership. Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel first reported news of Bowlsby’s letter.
“The Big 12 Conference demands that ESPN immediately cease and desist all actions that may harm the Conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference’s existing Members or any other NCAA Conference regarding the Big 12 Conference’s Members, possible conference realignment, or potential financial incentives or outcomes related to possible conference realignment,” Bowlsby wrote, his letter first released by The Athletic’s Max Olson.
“The Big 12 Conference reserves and will enforce all of its rights under the Grant of Rights Agreement and the Telecast Agreement to the full extent of the law and will not allow its business to be interfered with by its business partners or others.”
Additionally, Bowlsby requests ESPN provide the Big 12 written assurances it will stop the alleged tampering by noon Thursday. SEC presidents will meet Thursday to vote to extend membership invitations to OU and Texas. Both the Sooners’ and Longhorns’ boards of regents will convene Friday morning.