As expected, the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma have notified the Big 12 Conference that they will not renew their grants of media rights following the expiration of the current contract. That contract expires on June 30, 2025.
The thinly-worded statement opens room for much speculation as to the path the two schools will take, but at face value, it seems to indicate that they could stay in the league for four more years until the grant of rights expires.
“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 joint statement of the two schools reads. “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 first sentence indicates that the schools are providing the notice that would keep them from having to pay a commitment buyout fee, estimated to be $75-80 million per school, would they have left the league without an 18-month pre-notice. If that is the case, that would leave the two schools in the Big 12 for at least another two academic years.
It’s also barely possible that the two schools might consider staying in the league if membership did not mandate signing away all broadcast rights to the league, but that appears, at least for now, to be well down the list of potential motivations for the two schools.
While it’s beyond ironic that the duo uses the word “honor” in its statement, there is at least the smallest bit of clarity in the first part of the statement. However, the last sentence shows that in reality, nothing is certain. Legal action, lawsuits, behind-the-scenes strong-arming and more all remain as potential outcomes as UT and OU appear to try to find the quickest way to bail on their existing organization.