Big 12 Announces It Has Commitment From League Members to Stay Together

September 1, 2021

OU and Texas leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in 2025 — and potentially before that — sure feels a lot like the beginning of the end for the league as we know it. But the conference on Wednesday pushed back against that notion in a statement, saying it has secured commitments from the eight ADs of the remaining member institutions to further the Big 12 into the future.

“The eight ADs remain committed to furthering the Big 12 as one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences, and look forward to working with our presidents and chancellors to strengthen the league,” league commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “Future exploration by the group will continue to center on options that best position the long-term strength of the Conference.”

The decision to stick together comes after two days of consultation with the athletic directors of the continuing members of the Big 12, the conference said.

There’s not a lot of meat on the bone here in terms of what that means and even less about the commitment of the eight institutions, and if circumstances change it certainly seems like those commitments could as well. But it’s a step in the right direction for the Big 12 in what has been an otherwise brutal summer. Losing OU and Texas to the SEC is a crushing blow that may ultimately knock the league from the ranks of the power structure but keeping the remaining eight intact and working on a solution to forge ahead — together — could be a viable path.

The one topic left out here of course is expansion. Growing from eight to 10 or 12 could ultimately help the league when the next TV deal is up. Right now it seems more inevitable than ever after the three-league alliance between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten and the Pac-12’s decision not to expand, but thus far the league has not publicly signaled it is headed that direction even if it may choose to do so. The first thing is making sure the remaining eight don’t defect like OU and Texas did so gathering on the same page as they did this week is a positive sign — the first in awhile — that the Big 12 isn’t going to just fold up in the face of adversity.

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