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Texas, Oklahoma begin formal withdrawal from Big 12

The Red River rivals have informed the Big 12 of their intent to leave.

A Sunday night Zoom call was not enough to save the Big 12 as we know it.

The universities of Texas and Oklahoma have filed formal notice with the Big 12 they do not intend to extend their grant-of-rights agreements with the conference. In non-lawyer speak, that means they're leaving the conference. 

statement

The Big 12's grant-of-rights agreement runs through the 2024-25 academic year, when the league's contracts with TV partners ESPN and Fox expire. A GOR was thought to be prohibitive toward defections from the conference, since each school is, in theory, "granting" its TV earnings to the Big 12. 

Clearly, UT and OU's lawyers think differently, and now the next steps in the process will emerge.

Both schools will have to apply for SEC membership, then must be voted in with at least 11 votes. 

The biggest unanswered question will be when the Red River rivals will join their new league. Most estimates place that time in either 2022 or 2023, but only time will tell. Obviously, the sooner (get it?) the better in OU and UT's minds, but all we know -- officially -- is that the schools intend to honor the agreement. 

Following that, the next set of dominoes to fall are... all of them. With two of the biggest brands in college football now joining the sport's most powerful conference, anything seems on the table from a realignment perspective. 

If the Remaining 8 intend to find new homes elsewhere, they'll have no bigger fans than in Austin and Norman. After all, if Kansas and Oklahoma State join the Big Ten, , West Virginia lands in the ACC, and the Texas schools join the Pac-12, there will be no conference left to enforce its grant-of-rights agreement. 

All of that remains to be seen, but the biggest domino has now toppled over. 

Update: The Big 12 released this statement Monday afternoon.

“Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” stated Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships. Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond. The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

The multiple references to the year 2025 heavily implies the Big 12 won't give UT and OU a discount on their way out the door.