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OU football: Oklahoma informs Big 12 it won't renew grant of rights agreement; Sooners, Texas to leave conference

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Riley and Castiglione

OU coach Lincoln Riley with athletic director Joe Castiglione after the Sooners won the Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl Oct. 12, 2019.

OU and Texas announced in a joint statement Monday that neither school will be renewing its Big 12 grant of rights media agreement before it expires in 2025.

The announcement states that both schools intend to honor the existing rights agreement, but “both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.”

The move, which would cause of the departure of the Sooners and Longhorns from the conference, comes as no surprise as reports surfaced on July 23 of OU and Texas’ interest in leaving the Big 12. Prior to that, the Houston Chronicle reported on July 21 both schools had reached out to the SEC this offseason about potentially joining the conference in the future.

Hours after the Sooners and Longhorns officially informed the conference of their interest in leaving, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated in a press release that the other Big 12 schools are disappointed by OU and Texas' decision but recognize college football is constantly changing and "will most likely look much different in 2025" than it does now.

“The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships," Bowlsby said in the release. "Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond.  The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

Oklahoma and UT, through university statements, announced the schools would not address rumors shortly after The Chronicle’s report first came out. The Big 12 then held a meeting July 22 between the conference’s university presidents and CEOs to discuss the Sooners and Longhorns reported interest in leaving the conference, but OU and Texas officials were absent from the meeting.

However, the Big 12 Executive Committee met with OU President Joseph Harroz and UT President Jay Hartzell on Sunday to discuss the matter and released a statement afterward.

“The meeting was cordial," Bowlsby said in the press release on July 25. "And the Executive Committee expressed a willingness to discuss proposals that would strengthen the conference and be mutually beneficial to OU and UT, as well as the other member institutions of the conference.

"I expect that we will continue our conversations in the days ahead and we look forward to discussing thoughts, ideas and concepts that may be of shared interest and impact.”

The Sooners and Longhorns were original members of the Big 12 when it was founded in 1994. Oklahoma has won 14 conference championships since 1996 when conference play started, the most of any school. Texas has the second most Big 12 titles with three.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 1:20 p.m. to add the Big 12's July 26 press release.

Chandler Engelbrecht is a journalism senior and the Daily's assistant sports editor. He currently covers OU football and has previously covered OU men's basketball, volleyball and men's gymnastics.

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