Amid Friday’s news that the Big 12 will add its four new members in 2023, it appears that Oklahoma and Texas will not be making their own conference transition on the same timeline. Instead, 2024 “is still a more realistic target date” for the Sooners and Longhorns to bolt for the SEC, according to the Austin-American Statesman, bringing the possibility of a bizarre 2023-24 Big 12 season into focus.
The Big 12 has operated with just 10 members since the 2011 season after Missouri and Texas A&M’s departure for the SEC. But it would have 14 schools in 2023-24 if Oklahoma and Texas stick around for a season after the addition of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. If Oklahoma and Texas wanted to join the SEC in 2023 when the Big 12 welcomes its new members, the schools would need to pay projected nine-figure exit fees for breaking the league’s grant of media rights, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd previously reported.
However, it’s expected that those fees would be more manageable in 2024 ahead of the 2025 expiration date of the Big 12’s current media deal. Official word from the SEC on conference realignment last year was that Oklahoma and Texas would become league members on July 1, 2025, though speculation has long been rampant that an earlier date was likely.
The Big 12 has been operating under the assumption that both the Sooners and Longhorns would remain in the conference through the 2024-25 season. The league has been preparing for the possibility of two seasons under a 14-team configuration, which would entail splitting into two divisions for football.