When the SEC announced in June 2021 that Texas and Oklahoma would join the conference no later than 2025, it was not anticipated the programs would exit their Big 12 contracts early. However, the Longhorns and Sooners have been efforting an earlier-than-scheduled departure from the Big 12 that, to this point, has proven unsuccessful.
ESPN reported Friday that it is unlikely the schools will come to an agreement with the Big 12 and its television partners (ESPN, Fox) that would allow Texas and Oklahoma to leave for the SEC earlier than the 2025-26 academic year. The SEC did not comment on the report.
Texas and Oklahoma exchanged proposals with ESPN and Fox over the last few days centered on exchanging games, game choices and cash in exchange for an early exit from the Big 12, sources close to the situation told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.
While there was a "glimmer" of hope a resolution could be reached, negotiations ultimately fizzled out.
"I don't want to say 'dead.' For now, there is no deal," a person familiar with the negotiations told CBS Sports. "There is something there that could work."
For Texas and Oklahoma to leave early for the SEC, both the Big 12 and Fox would need to be compensated. The Longhorns and/or Sooners were involved among the top-five rated games in six of the 13 weeks of the regular season.
An early exit for Texas and Oklahoma would result in the programs owing more than $160 million in termination fees. Sources previously told CBS Sports that figure would likely be negotiated down to as little as 60% of the original figure.
It has been known since late August that Texas and Oklahoma desired to leave the Big 12 early.
The Longhorns and Sooners deciding to move to the SEC set off a chain reaction of conference realignment. It led to the Big 12 adding BYU, Houston, Cincinnati and UCF -- all starting in 2023 -- giving the conference 14 teams for two seasons prior to the departures of Texas and OU.
CBS Sports reported in December 2022 that one major holdup in the move is the concern by the Big 12's television partners (ESPN and Fox) that the value of their contracts with the conference would take a huge hit in 2024 due to the departure of Texas and Oklahoma. The Big 12's grant of rights deal expires prior to the 2025 season, which is the reason that 2025 was announced as the deadline for the move.
One possible solution to that problem would be Texas and Oklahoma playing games within the Big 12 footprint in 2024. That would give Fox rights to broadcast games featuring two ratings draws, though that scenario would subsequently impact existing contracts that schools in both leagues have with out-of-conference opponents.
"They would have to play games in the [Big 12] footprint so Fox and ESPN can have value," an industry source told CBS Sports. "If ESPN and Fox are happy, [the Big 12] would be happy."
It became clear that neither conference expected the massive shift in the near future. The Big 12 released its schedule on Jan. 31, and it includes Texas and Oklahoma. The SEC released its 2023 schedule on Sept. 30, 2022 without the Longhorns and Sooners. Future conference scheduling typically doesn't happen until the preceding year, so both conferences have been operating as usual over the last several months.