HOOVER, Ala. – Athletic instructor in Texas A&M Ross Bjork stands up for his school after a report from the Houston Chronicle that Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the SEC to attend the conference.
The newspaper quoted an unnamed college official as saying a message could come within a few weeks. Both Texas and Oklahoma said they would not address the report.
“Speculation is always swirling around collegiate athletics,” a Texas spokesman said in a statement. “We will not address rumors or speculation.”
Said Oklahoma in a statement: “The college athletics landscape is constantly changing. We do not address every anonymous rumor.”
Still, Bjork said he will be “diligent in our approach to protecting Texas A&M.”
“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Bjork said. “There’s a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12 – being single and having our own identity.”
Texas A&M left with Missouri Big 12 to join the SEC in 2012.
Bjork said he and other SEC athletic directors had not discussed bringing Texas and Oklahoma into the conference. Under SEC statutes regarding conference membership, “a vote of at least three-quarters of the members is required to extend an invitation to membership” or in this case 11 of the 14 schools.
Bjork also said he was not aware of any language in Texas A & M’s deal with the SEC that would ban the league from adding another team from the state.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he was concerned about the 2021 season and did not directly address what he described as a “report from unnamed people.”
“I do not want to comment on speculation,” Sankey said.
Oklahoma State said while calling the reports “unconfirmed” that it would be “extremely disappointed” if they were true and would defend its position.
“While we place an award on history, loyalty and trust, rest assured, we will aggressively defend and promote what is best for Oklahoma State and our strong athletic program that continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally,” the school said in a declaration.
A potential obstacle to such a move, at least soon, is that Oklahoma and Texas signed a Big 12 award of rights agreement in which they granted their first- and second-person media rights to football and men’s basketball to conference until June 30, 2025. This means that the big 12 will still own the media rights of these schools for these sports – even though they are no longer members – until the agreement expires.
The Big 12’s TV contracts with ESPN and Fox also expire in 2025. Longhorn Network’s agreement with ESPN runs through 2031.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said, “I bet they would,” when asked what he thought about the possibility of Texas and Oklahoma trying to attend the conference.
“I’m just worried about A&M, do you know what I mean?” Said Fisher. “Listen, we have the biggest league of all … I do not know how I feel.”
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Heather Dinich contributed to this report.