The news that Texas and Oklahoma were expressing their interest in leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference began in Hoover, Alabama and spread quickly to all points of the two conference’s footprint and beyond the boundaries of athletics.
Texas Rep. Jeff Leach (R) District 67 tweeted Thursday morning that he was working on legislation that would require the state government to sign off on Texas’ departure from the Big 12.
“The lack of transparency by our flagship institution is wrong,” Leach tweeted. “Such a monumental economic and education decision impacting the the entire state must not be made in the bubble on the forty acres.
“This is much more than college sports. The impact of UT’s decision would have on communities & business all across Texas would be real, substantial and potentially devastating. On behalf of those concerned Texans, the Texas Legislature has an obligation to be involved.”
The Texas Legislature is currently in a special session and more than 50 Texas Democrats are still in Washington, D.C., breaking quorum in an effort to block voting legislation.
As the day progressed, multiple reports surfaced of a meeting called between Big 12 membership, in which Texas and Oklahoma did not attend. Administers were informed that Texas and Oklahoma have explored the possibility of joining the SEC, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger. The pair’s departure is “not imminent” but is serious, Dellenger tweeted, also saying that Texas A&M officials learned through the Texas Board of Regents.
As reports surfaced from the meeting, Texas Tech Chancellor Tedd Mitchell tweeted about the situation.
“Like many across our state and within the footprint of our league, I’ve been extremely disappointed by the actions and intentions of our friends in Austin and Norman,” Mitchell tweeted. “From day one of the Big 12 Conference’s existence, Texas Tech has been a proud and trustworthy partner. As the landscape of collegiate athletics shifts, I can promise Red Raider Nation that our leadership will diligently pursue all options to best position Texas Tech for long-term success.”
Thursday evening, the Big 12 released a statement that said the remaining eight members want Texas and Oklahoma to remain in the fold.
“There is a recognition that institutions may act in their own self interest, however there is an expectation that members adhere to Conference bylaws and the enforcement of Grant of Rights agreements,” the statement said.
Former A&M offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor took to Twitter Thursday to give his thoughts on the news.
“Texas should be allowed to join the SEC so A&M can finally shut the mouths of all the delusional Longhorn fans who think they stand a chance in the SEC and against A&M,” he tweeted.