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WVU AD ‘Disappointed’ in Texas and OU Decision

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Monday, July 19, 2021, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Staff and Wire Report

Texas and Oklahoma made a request Tuesday to join the powerhouse Southeastern Conference, with SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey saying the league would consider it in the “near future.”

A day after the Big 12 schools notified the league that they would not be extending an agreement that binds conference members to 2025, the schools publicly stated for the first time they want to join the SEC.

Oklahoma and Texas sent a joint letter to Sankey, requesting “invitations for membership to the Southeastern Conference starting on July 1, 2025.”

“We believe that there would be mutual benefit to the universities on the one hand, and the SEC on the other hand, for the universities to become members of the SEC. We look forward to the prospect of discussions regarding this matter,” the schools said in a letter signed by each university’s president.

Oklahoma and Texas are bound to the Big 12 and its eight other members through the 2024-25 school year by a grant of media rights that runs concurrent with the conference’s billion-dollar television deals with ESPN and Fox.

West Virginia University Athletic Director Shane Lyons expressed disappointment in Texas and Oklahoma’s decision in a statement released Monday evening.

“For the past nine years, West Virginia University has been a loyal member of the Big 12 Conference. We have valued the partnership with the other nine members and have served the league as a prestigious academic institution and a nationally recognized athletics program,” Lyons said. “We are disappointed that two of our Big 12 institutions have indicated their intent not to extend their media rights beyond 2025.”

Joining another conference before the grant of rights expires would cost the schools tens of millions of dollars per year in relinquished revenue and possibly exit penalties.

“West Virginia University’s top priority continues to be our student-athletes,” Lyons continued.

“However, in addition to our student-athletes, we also understand the impact this announcement has on our University, our state and our Mountaineer fans around the world. We will continue to be highly engaged and extremely diligent in finding connections that strengthen our academic mission and allow our student-athletes to thrive in one of the most successful athletics programs in the country.”

West Virginia has been a member of the Big 12 since 2012, coming over from the Big East in the last round of college football realignment.The Big 12 was created from a merger of sorts between the Big Eight and Southwestern Conference in 1994 and began play in 1996. Texas and Oklahoma are the conference’s most notable brands. They have the richest and most successful athletic departments, and they are the only Big 12 schools to win national college football championships.

“We are unwavering in the belief that the Big 12 provides an outstanding platform for its members’ athletic and academic success,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “We will face the challenges head-on, and have confidence that the Big 12 will continue to be a vibrant and successful entity in the near term and into the foreseeable future.”

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