Big 12 accuses ESPN of trying to 'destabilize' conference

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Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby accused ESPN of encouraging different conferences to prime isolated the league truthful Texas and Oklahoma tin determination to the Southeastern Conference much rapidly and without paying a monolithic buyout.

“I person implicit certainty that they (ESPN) person been progressive successful manipulating different conferences to spell aft our members,” Big 12 Commissioner Bowlsby told The Associated Press connected Wednesday aft sending a cease-and-desist missive to the network.

The missive addressed to ESPN enforcement Burke Magnus, President of Programming and Content, said the Big 12 had go alert the web had taken actions “to not lone harm the Big 12 Conference but to effect successful fiscal benefits for ESPN.”

ESPN, which owns the SEC Network, signed a $3 cardinal woody with the Southeastern Conference past twelvemonth that volition springiness the web the broadcast rights to each SEC sports starting successful 2024.

The web besides has a rights woody with the Big 12, though it shares those rights with Fox. Those deals expire successful 2025.


The Big 12 demanded the web halt “all actions that whitethorn harm the Conference and its members and that it not pass with the Big 12 Conference’s existing Members oregon immoderate different NCAA Conference regarding the Big 12 Conference’s Members, imaginable league realignment oregon imaginable fiscal incentives oregon outcomes related to imaginable league realignment.“

ESPN responded successful a one-sentence statement: “The claims successful the missive person nary merit."

Texas and Oklahoma informed the Big 12 this week they would not beryllium renewing an statement that binds them to the league and its 8 different members until 2025. The assistance of media rights runs concurrently with the Big 12′s billion-dollar tv contracts with ESPN and Fox.

On Tuesday, Texas and Oklahoma submitted a petition to the SEC to articulation that league successful 2025. To articulation the league earlier than that could outgo the schools tens of millions of dollars — unless the Big 12 were to autumn isolated due to the fact that immoderate of the different members near arsenic well.


“ESPN is incentivizing different conferences to destabilize the Big 12,” Bowlsby added.

ESPN owns the rights to each Atlantic Coast Conference athletics and has an exclusive woody with the American Athletic Conference. The web besides has existent rights agreements with the Big Ten and Pac-12, though it shares those with Fox, too.

Bowlsby told AP that Texas and Oklahoma person been moving connected a determination to the SEC for months, doing truthful portion taking portion successful Big 12 strategy meetings wherever proprietary accusation was shared.

Bowlsby said helium suspects ESPN was progressive down the scenes erstwhile Texas and Oklahoma were successful discussions with the SEC, but helium has nary impervious of that.

“This full happening has been a implicit articulation of deception,” helium said.

SEC assemblage presidents and chancellors are scheduled to conscionable tomorrow, but it is unclear if they volition ballot connected extending invitations to league to Oklahoma and Texas. SEC bylaws authorities 11 of the 14 members would request to ballot successful favour of inviting a caller member, and it appears that won't beryllium a problem.


Texas A&M officials had voiced their displeasure past week with the anticipation of rival Texas joining the SEC, but A&M's committee of regents connected Wednesday directed University President Katherine Banks to ballot successful favour of the Longhorns and Sooners coming aboard.


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