by Jim Buzzerd
It was nearly two weeks ago that news broke that Texas and Oklahoma wanted out of the Big 12 to be able to join the Southeastern Conference. Last Monday a statement was issued by both schools. The statement read: The University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement. The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.
The SEC followed with formal invitations to both schools and both school’s Board of Regents unanimously accepted the invitation. The grant of rights expires June 30, 2025, which means Texas and Oklahoma could remain in the Big 12 for four more seasons. Those schools said they intend to honor the agreement and the Big 12 has indicated they will hold them to the agreement. That probably won’t happen since the big money backers at both schools will likely come up with the money to pay early exit fees for the schools.
Enough about Texas and Oklahoma. Their decision has put the future of eight other collegiate athletic programs in serious jeopardy. Big 12 Commissioner, Bob Bowlsby issued a cease-and-desist order to ESPN. The assumption being that ESPN had some hand in brokering the two schools to the SEC, and that the sports network was actively working to direct other Big 12 schools elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, ESPN denied any wrongdoing. “The accusations you have made are entirely without merit,” ESPN’s letter said Thursday. “To be clear, ESPN has engaged in no wrongful conduct and, thus, there is nothing to ‘cease and desist.’”
Obviously, the concern here is what happens to West Virginia University in this scenario? I wish I could say WVU has a safe landing spot, but I don’t have that knowledge. At this stage I’m not sure even those inside the program have any assurances. Scuttlebutt has the ACC genuinely interested, but an invite is nowhere near a reality. There are even rumors that Clemson and Florida State may want to join the SEC. If that were to happen, would the ACC really be a good conference to land in?
Which leads to another rumor that has the SEC looking to expand to 20 teams, which, if true, could possibly have West Virginia in the mix for the 19th or 20th spot there. Worse scenarios abound, but I’m not going down that path unless forced to. In the meantime, just grin and bear it.
Now, it’s time for a Deuce McBride update. The former WVU guard was drafted last week in the 36 spot by the New York Knicks. That makes him the fourth pick in the second round which is a little later than most projections and costing him significant dollars. Interestingly, some projections had McBride being drafted 21st by Knicks. It’s pretty cool the Knicks have given McBride the #2 jersey. Go Deuce!