Texas, Oklahoma reportedly reach out to Southeastern Conference about joining

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days Monday, July 19, 2021, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala. – Big 12 powers Texas and Oklahoma have reached out the Southeastern Conference about potentially joining the league, the Houston Chronicle reported Wednesday, citing a source it did not identify.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey declined to comment on the report from the newspaper, which cited a “high-ranking official with knowledge of the situation” and said an announcement could come in the next couple of weeks. Adding two members would give the powerhouse SEC 16 teams, the largest in major college football.

Asked at his league’s football media days if the SEC has had any discussions with Texas or Oklahoma, Sankey said only: “I’m talking about the 2021 season.”

Neither Oklahoma nor Texas would confirm any discussions about a potential move to the SEC. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, whose 10-member league would suffer a major blow with such defections, did not return messages seeking comment.

“The college athletics landscape is shifting constantly,” Oklahoma said in a statement. “We don’t address every anonymous rumor.”

A Texas statement offered a similar response: “Speculation always swirls around collegiate athletics. We will not address rumors or speculation.”

Oklahoma State was more direct in its statement.

“If true, we would be gravely disappointed,” the Cowboys’ statement said. “While we place a premium on history, loyalty and trust, be assured, we will aggressively defend and advance what is best for Oklahoma State and our strong athletic program, which continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally.”

The nation’s biggest conferences last underwent realignment nearly a decade ago. The Longhorns’ in-state rival, Texas A&M, joined the SEC in 2012 along with Missouri in the league’s last expansion.

Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork was adamant about not wanting the Longhorns to join the SEC.

“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” Bjork told reporters in Hoover. “There’s a reason why Texas A&M left the Big 12, to be standalone, to have our own identity. And that’s our feeling.”

When Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher was asked about Texas and Oklahoma reportedly being interested in the SEC, he said: “I bet they would.”

“Listen, we’ve got the greatest league in ball,” Fisher said. “That’s the choices they make or what they do, I don’t know, but I don’t know how I feel about it.”