ATLANTA, Ga. 一 The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma on Tuesday formally requested to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in 2025. The announcement comes after recent rumors circled of the two schools having interest in joining the conference.
The SEC has been the most successful college athletics conference for over a decade and has won 11 of the last 15 FBS national championships. So, it comes as no surprise that two of the most successful teams in the history of college football would want to join their ranks.
Each school’s media rights deal with the Big 12 Conference expires in 2025 and both have announced they will not be renewing their contract, leaving room for the jump to the SEC.
The request to switch to the SEC could very well be due to the new NIL guidelines allowing student-athletes to profit off of their “name, image and likeness” – often via endorsement deals.
With the SEC being the most powerful and profitable conference in college football, the move could mean a sizable recruiting benefit for the two schools as they could offer extra media exposure and top tier competition to potential recruits.
The expansion would require 11 of the 14 schools in the SEC to vote in favor of the move. If approved, the expansion would make the SEC the largest conference in Division I with 16 schools and make the Big 12 the smallest conference in Division I with only 8 schools.
If Texas and OU were to leave, the Big 12 would sustain yet another huge hit. In 2012, the University of Missouri and Texas A&M University left the Big 12, also for the SEC. After Mizzou and Texas A&M left, the conference was able to add Texas Christian University and West Virginia University. The Big 12 played as the Big 8 from 1907 to 1996, and this move would leave only four of the original eight teams in the conference.
The Big 12 also sent a cease and desist to ESPN as a result of the talks about the two teams jumping ship. The conference said in a letter that ESPN “actively engaged in discussions with at least one other conference regarding that conference inducing additional members of the Big 12 Conference to leave the Big 12 Conference.”
The expansion of the SEC could also lead to the expansion of the college football playoff. Currently, the four-team playoff has been in talks to be increased to 12 teams. This would also be a stepping stone for the SEC to move outside the authority of the NCAA. Currently, the college football playoff is not within the control of the NCAA.
This move would also likely cause the current divisions in the SEC to realign. Another two teams in the western part of the conference would mean that Missouri would probably be in a division with the other former Big 12 schools.
It is currently unknown when the SEC will vote on whether or not they will invite the two schools to join their conference. Regardless of their decision, this is likely to cause major realignment for college sports.