Texas, Oklahoma Leaving Big 12 Early, Joining SEC In 2024 Season After Reaching Exit Agreement

Texas and Oklahoma have reached an early exit agreement with the Big 12 that will see the powers depart for the SEC following the 2023-24 athletic season. The Big 12 and both programs announced Thursday night that the Longhorns and Sooners will pay early withdrawal fees of a combined $100 million to join the SEC in 2024, a full season earlier than originally planned.

Thursday, February 9th 2023, 7:50 pm

By: CBS Sports


Texas and Oklahoma have reached an early exit agreement with the Big 12 that will see the powers depart for the SEC following the 2023-24 athletic season. The Big 12 and both programs announced Thursday night that the Longhorns and Sooners will pay early withdrawal fees of a combined $100 million to join the SEC in 2024, a full season earlier than originally planned.

The Big 12's two most prominent programs made waves in July 2021 when they accepted invitations to join the SEC, setting off the latest round of conference realignment. At the time, Texas and Oklahoma planned to move to the SEC beginning July 1, 2025, once the Big 12's active grant of rights agreement expired, opening the door for UT and OU to depart the conference free and clear. 

However, once the Big 12 backfilled its membership by adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF -- all joining the league for the 2023 season -- momentum began to shift toward the Longhorns and Sooners leaving for the SEC earlier than scheduled. Texas and Oklahoma not only preferred to avoid playing the new Big 12 members, they wanted to join the SEC for Year 1 of its new TV deal with ESPN. The Big 12 eyed the substantial exit fee to supplement the new six-year media rights deal it negotiated with Fox and ESPN in October 2022.

The eight legacy Big 12 teams agreed to share a portion of their media rights distributions from the Big 12's existing deals with Fox and ESPN to make possible the four-team expansion. Each program decided to forego $16 million total ($8 million annually in 2023-24 and 2024-25) in future monies, sources previously told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.

The negotiated $100 million early exit fee the Big 12 will receive from Texas and Oklahoma for not being part of the league's media package in 2025 -- down from a sum that could have totaled as much as $168 million -- will likely be used to make whole those eight legacy programs. It is not yet known what, if any, compensation Fox and/or ESPN will receive as part of the transition.

"As I have consistently stated, the conference would only agree to an early withdrawal if it was in our best interest for Oklahoma and Texas to depart prior to June 30, 2025," Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement announcing the deal. "By reaching this agreement, we are now able to accelerate our new beginning as a 12-team league and move forward in earnest with our initiatives and future planning."

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey subsequently announced that his league's office will "proceed with facilitating the transition" of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC beginning July 1, 2024, one year earlier than originally approved.

Not only will the Longhorns and Sooners now join the SEC as it begins its new media rights deal with ESPN in 2024, that season also marks the first year of the expanded 12-team College Football Playoff and the transition of USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten.

The SEC and Big Ten will both become 16-team conferences starting in 2024. The Big 12 will play with 14 members in 2023 before moving back to 12 teams in 2024 unless it expands further, which is believed to be on Yormark's radar.

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