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UT Austin is poised to leave the Big 12 early

Crowds walk in front of the DKR Texas Memorial Stadium before the University of Texas Austin and Texas Christian Univeristy home football game on Nov. 12, 2022.
Gabriel C. Pérez
UT Austin first announced its intention to leave the Big 12 Conference for the SEC in 2021. The school is now poised to leave the Big 12 one year early.

The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma are set to leave the Big 12 Conference one year earlier than expected. The Big 12 announced Thursday night it had reached a tentative plan for both schools to leave the conference after the 2023-2024 athletic year. The UT and OU governing boards will need to sign off on the agreement.

The Longhorns and Sooners, which were founding members of the Big 12, will pay a price for their early departure from the conference. The Big 12 said in a news release that the schools will pay a total of $100 million to the conference “in foregone distributable revenues, which OU and UT will be able to partially offset with future revenues.”

Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said in the news release that he would have only agreed to an early withdrawal if it was best for the conference as a whole.

“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,” he said.

UT and OU are leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. The schools first asked to join the SEC in July 2021. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said Thursday the conference is preparing to welcome them early.

“We look forward to welcoming the Conference's new members and moving into our future as a 16-team league,” he said in a statement.

UT President Jay Hartzell said in a statement that he thinks the accelerated exit benefits all the schools involved.

“The Big 12 has been a respected partner for nearly three decades, and we look forward to a final season of spirited competition with our friends and rivals,” he said.

If the agreement is finalized, UT and OU will join the SEC in time for the fall 2024 semester. Other members of the SEC include football powerhouses such as the University of Alabama, Auburn University and the University of Georgia — the reigning national champions.

The Big 12 will welcome four new members on July 1, 2023: Brigham Young University, University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Houston. It will be a 14-member league during the 2023-2024 athletic year.

The Big 12’s media rights deal is set to expire in June 2025. ESPN and the SEC have a 10-year media rights deal that begins in 2024.

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
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