SEC presidents unanimously vote to allow Texas, Oklahoma into conference
The two Big 12 powerhouses needed at least 11 approval votes from 14 presidents to be invited in.
"Today's unanimous vote is both a testament to the SEC's longstanding spirit of unity and mutual cooperation, as well as a recognition of the outstanding legacies of academic and athletic excellence established by the Universities of Oklahoma and Texas," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. "I greatly appreciate the collective efforts of our presidents and chancellors in considering and acting upon each school's membership interest."
Texas' and Oklahoma's board of regents are set to meet Friday to accept the invitation, according to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby released a statement Thursday, criticizing the process that led the schools to leave the conference.
"Today's SEC announcement reaffirms that these plans have been in the works with ongoing discussions between the parties and television partner for some time," the statement reads. "We are disappointed these discussions went as far as they did without notice to, or inclusion of, other Big 12 members. Despite our concerns for the process and for the overall health of college athletics, we will do everything possible to make sure that the student-athletes at both universities enjoy an excellent experience throughout the remaining four years of their participation and competition in the Big 12 conference."
Bowlsby said Wednesday that ESPN has talked with at least one other conference about poaching Big 12 programs with the intention to destabilize the league so Texas and Oklahoma could avoid exit fees. The network, which is the Big 12's primary broadcast rights partner, said Bowlsby's claims have "no merit."
It was widely expected that the SEC would welcome Texas and Oklahoma. Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork was the only member of any SEC school to publicly voice his disapproval with the move once initial reports surfaced. But Texas A&M's board of regents recommended the support of the expansion to school president Dr. M. Katherine Banks on Wednesday, according to Sam Khan Jr. of The Athletic.
Earlier this week, the Longhorns and Sooners formally submitted requests to join the SEC after their grants of media rights with the Big 12 expire in 2025. The schools would each have to pay $76 million to move out of the Big 12 before that deal runs out.