The SEC has officially extended an invitation to the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma to join the conference beginning in the 2025-26 academic year, the SEC announced Thursday.
The invite was extended after a unanimous vote, 14-0, from the SEC’s presidents and chancellors. In order for approval the schools needed a minimum of 11 votes.
NEWS | The @SEC Presidents & Chancellors voted unanimously Thursday to extend membership invitations to the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas to join the SEC effective July 1, 2025, with competition to begin in all sports for the 2025-26 academic year.
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) July 29, 2021
Both Texas and Oklahoma, who are currently powerhouses in the Big 12, will have Board of Regents meetings on Friday morning, when they are expected to officially accept the invitations to become the SEC’s 15th and 16th members.
If accepted, the schools would become official members of the SEC on July 1, 2025.
“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,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey.
“I greatly appreciate the collective efforts of our Presidents and Chancellors in considering and acting upon each school’s membership interest.”
Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork was the only member of any SEC school to voice his disapproval of the move, but TAMU Board of Regents directs president Katherine Banks has later confirmed the school would be voting in support of bringing in the new schools.
On Monday, it was announced that both the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma would not be renewing their Big 12 Conference media rights for 2025, which all but confirmed that the schools would be heading to the SEC.
While the Sooners do not sponsor a swimming & diving program, the Longhorns have historically dominated the Big 12 in the sport, and a departure would be a seismic shift for college swimming.
The reigning NCAA men’s Division I champions would no longer have free reign to do essentially whatever it pleased at their conference championship meet, where they have won each and every year, and would have a new expectation to step up and perform at both SECs and NCAAs, rather than only the latter.
In terms of the conference as a whole, the loss of the two schools would be an extremely significant one for the Big 12, with Texas ($223 million) and Oklahoma ($163 million) the conference’s top-two revenue generating schools per year.
Texas A&M and the University of Missouri also left the Big 12 for the SEC back in 2012-13, which was the beginning of the conference’s decline in terms of overall competitiveness—no doubt a factor in the Longhorns and Sooners opting to depart.
There has also been a lot of discussion regarding the possibility that other conferences have looked at “poaching” Big 12 programs to help destabilize the conference and therefore allow Texas and Oklahoma to avoid exit fees, and get them out of their television agreement with the Big 12 (though the invitation implies they can’t). Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has accused ESPN of helping the schools in doing this.