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Sources: Texas, OU spoke to the SEC about joining

Oklahoma and Texas have reached out to the SEC about possible participation in the conference, multiple sources confirmed to ESPN.

The Houston Chronicle, which first reported the story, quoted an unnamed college official and said an announcement could be made within a few weeks.

Both Texas and Oklahoma released similar statements Wednesday, but officials from both schools declined further comments to ESPN.

“Speculation is always swirling around college athletics,” a Texas spokesman said in a statement. “We will not address any rumors or speculation.”

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

A source told ESPN that the Big 12’s sports directors and administrators will meet on Thursday evening to discuss the situation.

Texas A&M Sports Director Ross Bjork told SEC Media Days on Wednesday that he would be “diligent in our approach to protecting Texas A&M.”

“We want to be the only SEC program in the state of Texas,” said Bjork. “There’s a reason Texas A&M left the Big 12 – to be independent, to have our own identity.”

Texas A&M left the Big 12 with Missouri to join the SEC in 2012.

Bjork said he and other SEC sports directors hadn’t discussed including Texas and Oklahoma in the conference. According to the SEC’s bylaws for conference membership, “at least three-fourths of the membership is required to invite membership,” or in this case 11 of the 14 schools.

Bjork also said he knew no language in Texas A & M’s deal with the SEC that would forbid the league from adding another team from the state.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he was concerned about the 2021 season and didn’t go directly into what he called an “unnamed report”.

“I’m not going to comment on speculation,” said Sankey.

Oklahoma State, while calling the reports “unconfirmed”, said it would be “extremely disappointed” if they were true and would defend its position.

“While we value history, loyalty and trust, we will aggressively defend and advance what is best for the state of Oklahoma and our strong sports program that continues to excel in the Big 12 and nationally,” the school said in a statement .

One possible obstacle to such a move, at least in brief, is that Oklahoma and Texas signed a Big 12 rights agreement granting their first and second level media rights for football and men’s basketball to the conference through June 30, 2025. That means that the Big 12 would continue to own these schools’ media rights to these sports – even if they are no longer members – until the agreement expires.

The Big 12’s TV contracts with ESPN and Fox also expire in 2025. The Longhorn Network’s deal with ESPN runs until 2031.

Texas A&M trainer Jimbo Fisher said, “I bet they would,” when asked what he thinks about Texas and Oklahoma being able to attend the conference.

“I’m just worried about A&M, you see what I mean?” said Fischer. “Listen, we have the best league of all. … I don’t know what to think of it.”

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Heather Dinich contributed to this report.

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