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Big 12 sends ESPN a “cease and desist” letter

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The Big 12 is starting its legal actions by going after the Worldwide Leader.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE (5:25 PM)

Bob Bowlsby has directly accused ESPN of tampering in a comment to the Associated Press. This is a wild turn of events.

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UPDATE (5:15 PM)

Sports Illustrated has obtained the full “cease and desist” letter from the Big 12 to ESPN. It appears that ESPN - beyond the possible tampering with Texas and Oklahoma - has also been attempting to work with another conference to convince at least one additional school to leave the Big 12. The school is unknown, but my guess would be West Virginia to the ACC.

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Well, the Big 12 is starting to put up a fight, rather than just watch the conference fade away. The Big 12 sent a “cease and desist” letter to ESPN on Wednesday afternoon, first reported by Pete Thamel.

This is an attempt to keep ESPN from any further conversations with Texas and Oklahoma about their potential entrance into the SEC - something that folks are accusing ESPN of having done to this point.

This doesn’t prevent ESPN from reporting on the Big 12 and its members, but it does preface any legal action that the Big 12 might take should ESPN work with Texas and Oklahoma to exit the conference.

Of course, this isn’t limited to Texas and Oklahoma. The cease and desist letter would also keep ESPN from potentially working with West Virginia to get them into the ACC, or with any other Big 12 school from moving to a new conference.

ESPN finds itself in a precarious position, simply because buyout money from the Longhorn Network could be used to pay Texas’ exit fees to the Big 12. ESPN stands to make that money back quickly, after a renegotiated SEC TV contract.

In the long-term will this change the fate of the conference? Most likely no, but it’s a signal the the Big 12 is going to try and do some damage on the way down.