The next step in the controversial process that has gripped the college football world for more than a week is complete. The SEC announced Thursday that its has extended an invitation for Texas and Oklahoma to join the conference following an unanimous 14-0 vote by the conference's presidents. The Longhorns and Sooners will be eligible to join the SEC as of 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."
A two-thirds vote (11 of 14) in the affirmative is required for the SEC to accept new members. Even Texas A&M, which immediately took a defensive stance to another Lone Star State team joining the league, voted to accept UT and OU.
Thursday's news comes two days after the schools formally submitted applications to become members of the conference. They officially announced that they will not extend their Big 12 grant-of-rights deals, which allows conferences to sell television rights to networks, when it expires in 2025.
With the Big 12 set to lose its two banner institutions, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby released a critical statement Thursday.
"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," Bowlsby said. "We are disappointed these discussions went as far as they did without notice to, or inclusion of, other Big 12 members. Despite our conference for the process and for the overall health of college athletics, we will do everything possible to make sure 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."
The move has set off a wild series of events this week, including Wednesday, when it was learned that the Big 12 has sent a cease and desist order to ESPN -- one of its primary television partners -- alleging that the network colluded with other conferences in an attempt to destabilize the Big 12. CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd reported that ESPN is involved in the American Athletic Conference's (AAC) attempt to poach the eight remaining members of the Big 12.
"I'm absolutely certain [ESPN was] involved in it with the [American] trying to poach our members," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports.
Where the Big 12 goes from here is anybody's guess. But as of Thursday night, Oklahoma and Texas will not be a part of it.