Texas and Oklahoma formally requested an invitation to the SEC on Tuesday morning, triggering what will be a very chaotic next few months/years. Here’s their co-authored letter, sent to the SEC.
Texas and Oklahoma have formally requested an invitation for membership to the SEC, starting on July 1, 2025: pic.twitter.com/wpVX0jZNTe— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) July 27, 2021
You’ll note that Texas and Oklahoma have requested a “start date” of July 1, 2025. That is conveniently the date the Big 12’s current grant of rights agreement ends. It’s highly unlikely the Big 12 survives all the way to 2025 in its current form, though, and there are two ways the Big 12 could see it’s time come to an end before then.
Texas and Oklahoma buy their way out
The Horns and Sooners would have to pay two years worth of distribution each ($76 million) to leave early in this scenario, and the earliest they’d be able to leave is prior to the 2023 season.
Texas could afford this pretty easily, seeing how they’d get a fat payout from ESPN as a part of ending the Longhorn Network.
A source close to the situation said the buyout money for #Texas and #Oklahoma to leave the #Big12 before 2025 could come from the roughly $160 million #UT is still owed by ESPN for the final 10 years of ESPN's 20-yr, $300 million contract with Texas for the Longhorn Network.— Chip Brown (@ChipBrown247) July 27, 2021
But wait, wouldn’t that essentially mean that ESPN is paying Texas’s buyout, the result of which is that Texas will join the SEC and add value to another ESPN contract? Hmmmmmm...
Of course, any other school is equally capable of buying their way out of the conference prior to 2025 as well. Should TCU and Oklahoma State, for example, get invited to the PAC-12, they could also pay $76 million to leave before 2025.
Conference members vote to dissolve the conference
In my opinion, Texas and Oklahoma should be working to find new landing places for the conference mates they are abandoning. According to Big 12 Bylaws, the conference can be dissolved with a 75% vote to do so. Thus, if six other universities find good landing spots (Say, Iowa State and Kansas to the Big Ten, West Virginia to the ACC, and TCU, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State to the PAC-12), schools could call a vote to dissolve.
Doing so would mean that every school could go its separate way without paying an exit fee to the Big 12.
There would be some litigation involved in this process as well. Kendall Kaut of Our Daily Bears explains it pretty well here:
Theoretically dissolving the league or changing the bylaws requires eight votes or 75% of members to change them.
A majority of the conference can vote to settle litigation. Bylaw 1.5.2(a)(6). Dissolution requires 75% (8 votes). See 1.5.2(b). That means six Big 12 schools (a majority) could leave the conference, sue, say “We owe nothing and the league is dissolved.” Then those six members could say, “We agree with the lawsuit filed by those six, and therefore, we concede the lawsuit.” So really I think you’re looking at six votes being sufficient to stop the Grant of Rights payments, not eight.
Now, if Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State and West Virginia are left homeless, those schools will argue that the departing schools are no longer members of the league because those schools are obligated to provide notice of withdraw. You then get into a very complicated legal debate about Big 12 Bylaw 3.2, which is here.
I fully expect one or both of these to happen prior to 2025, whether its one or the other, or a combination of the two, who knows.