IRVING, Texas — The latest domino to fall in the conference's realignment saga, the Big 12 has reportedly sent a cease and desist letter to one of its broadcast partners.
According to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, the league sent the letter to ESPN on Tuesday after it said it learned the network was was in contact with "at least one other conference regarding that conference inducing additional members of the Big 12 Conference to leave the Big 12 Conference."
In the letter, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby writes, "Section 20.2 (c) of the Amended the Restated Agreement between the Big 12 Conference and ESPN (the "Telecast Agreement") states that ESPN will not 'take any actions likely to impair, or [that are] inconsistent with, the rights the Conference has acquired under this Agreement.'"
Big 12 Conference schools are tied to the league through a "Grant of Rights" agreement, granting the league their media rights. The current Big 12 Grant of Rights expires on June 30, 2025.
The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma both informed the conference Monday they will not renew their agreements upon expiration and then petitioned the SEC for a membership invitation the next day.
Bowlsby's letter to ESPN demands the network not reach out to any of the remaining schools in the conference.
According to Brett McMurphy of Stadium, ESPN issued a statement in response to the letter, "The claims in the letter have no merit."
Wednesday, Jason Whitely at 6 News' sister station WFAA in Dallas reported the 14 SEC presidents will vote in a meeting Thursday on whether to invite Texas and Oklahoma in to the league, just eight days after the Houston Chronicle first broke the news as Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher was approaching the podium for his press conference at SEC Media Days.
Six of the eight remaining schools in the Big 12 (Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa State) have been in the conference since it first started playing in 1996.