Southeastern Conference presidents voted unanimously to extend membership to Oklahoma and Texas, the league announced Thursday.
A three-fourths majority from the 14 current member schools was required to extend the invites to the Sooners and Longhorns. Their membership will be “effective July 1, 2025, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2025-26 academic year,” according to a tweet from the conference. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, whose conference OU and Texas will be leaving, later reacted to the result.
“Today’s SEC announcement reaffirms that these plans have been in the works with ongoing discussions between the parties and television partner for some time,” Bowlsby said in a Thursday release. “We are disappointed these discussions went as far as they did without notice to, or inclusion of, other Big 12 members.
“Despite our concerns for the process and for the overall health of college athletics, we will do everything possible to make sure that the student-athletes at both universities enjoy an excellent experience throughout the remaining four years of their participation and competition in the Big 12 Conference.”
Rumors of OU and Texas’ departure from the Big 12 began swirling July 21 after the Houston Chronicle reported the schools approached the SEC regarding membership. Big 12 leaders met July 22 to discuss the situation, but representatives from OU and Texas weren’t present.
On July 25, OU President Joseph Harroz and Texas President Jay Hartzell met with the Big 12 Executive Committee about the rumors. That didn’t stop the Sooners and Longhorns from informing the Big 12 on Monday that they won’t renew their grant of rights agreements past 2025.
OU and Texas announced Tuesday they had officially petitioned the SEC for membership, leading to the invitation vote. Bowlsby has since alleged ESPN has been inducing conference members to leave, though the sports television network disputed his claims Thursday.
“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 said in a Wednesday release.
Initially, Texas A&M was a staunch objector to OU and Texas potentially joining its conference. The Aggies left the Big 12 themselves in 2011, one year after Nebraska jumped to the Big Ten and Colorado joined the Pac-12. “We want to be the only team from Texas in the SEC,” Aggies athletic director Ross Bjork said July 21.
Eventually, Texas A&M succumbed to its fellow SEC schools’ wishes. Its board of regents voted 8-1 Wednesday in favor of expansion. Oklahoma State President Kayse Shrum remains frustrated about the Sooners’ departure, having shared her disappointment over social media twice in the last six days.
Both the OU and Texas board of regents will meet Friday morning, and Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger reports they are expected to accept the SEC invitations. Oklahoma’s regents meeting begins at 9 a.m. at OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.