The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma appear ready to leave the Big 12 Athletic Conference in 2025.
In a brief joint statement Monday, the universities said they will exit after their current media rights agreement with the conference expires.
“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 statement says.
The announcement comes days after the universities signaled interest in joining the Southeastern Conference.
The departure of the Big 12’s two biggest athletic programs could represent a huge loss in interest and visibility, which in turn would translate into a significant loss in revenue for the smaller programs that remain in the conference.
Several Texas lawmakers who oppose the move have filed a bill that would require universities to obtain authorization from the legislature before departing athletic conferences, the Texas Tribune reports.
However, it is unclear what lawmakers will be able to achieve while the current special session remains at a standstill. Texas House Democrats fled the state to block a GOP push to enact new voting restrictions in the state, effectively halting all legislative efforts.
While the statement says the schools will stay in the conference until the current agreement runs out in 2025, there is widespread speculation that both schools could leave early. That move would probably include hefty buyout worth millions of dollars.