OSU president blasts OU on SEC move

DR. KAYSE SHRUM, OSU President

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State President Dr. Kayse Shrum isn’t even a full month on the job and already having to try to put out a massive firestorm created by an in-state institution.

On Monday, the University of Oklahoma and University of Texas released a joint statement that “they will not be renewing their grant of media rights following the expiration in 2025” with the Big 12 Conference.

It was the first step needed in sever ties with the athletic conference and align with the SEC, as was being reported late last week.

“Earlier today, OU delivered a document to the Big 12 Conference office which indicated they will not renew their grant of media rights with the Big 12 following the 2024-25 season. This action was strategic, deliberate and results from months of planning with the SEC,” Shrum wrote in a statement released Monday. “These conversations, which developed over a long period, are a clear breach of the Big 12 Conference bylaws and broke the decades-long bond of trust between our universities. It is difficult to understand how an Oklahoma institution of higher education would follow the University of Texas to the detriment of the state of Oklahoma.”

Oklahoma State’s new administration, both at the top of the university and the top of the athletic department with athletics director Chad Weiberg (who took over on July 1), now must work to figure out the best future for the Stillwater campus – be it sticking with the Big 12 in hopes of shoring up the league membership or searching for a new home.

“Nevertheless, we are looking to the future and what is best for Oklahoma State University,” the statement continues. “Over the last few days, I have received countless phone calls, texts and emails from high-ranking officials and members of the Cowboy family showing their support for OSU as we navigate the road ahead. Regardless of what comes next, OSU is dedicated to the state of Oklahoma.

“We remain confident OSU is in the strongest position ever, and I am excited about the future of Oklahoma State University, our land-grant mission, world-class faculty and top-notch athletic programs.”

Earlier in the afternoon, some time after the flagship athletic programs of the Big 12 announced their intent, the Big 12 also released a statement surrounding the news.

And just like Oklahoma State and each of the member schools, it is looking for a way to survive going forward.

“Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” stated Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships. 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.”

Per reports, neither team is expected to remain in the conference through 2025. For any member that wishes to leave early, Big 12 bylaws require a withdrawing member to pay a buyout fee, which would equal two years of television revenue.

Based on Big 12 financial reports from 2019 and 2020, a buyout for both OU and Texas would equal around $74 million each.

However, the buyout amount for both teams would increase if another Big 12 school challenges, “by legal action or otherwise”, that a withdrawing member or an outside entity attempted to interfere with the Big 12’s enforcement of the grant-of-rights agreement, per conference bylaws.

In short, OU and Texas risk even larger buyout fees if they publicly state their intent to join the SEC, or any other conference, before their Big 12 contracts expire in 2025.

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