Texas and Oklahoma are expected to declare their intention to leave the Big 12 in as soon as "24-48 hours," a prominent Big 12 source told CBS Sports on Friday. The Longhorns and Sooners are set to inform the Big 12 on Monday that they will not be renewing their grant of rights agreement with the conference, Horns247's Chip Brown reports.
"I'm not saying it's 100%, but it's close to it in terms of being a done deal," a Big 12 source intimately involved in the process told CBS Sports.
"It could be as soon as 24-48 hours and as long as two weeks before we have any clarity in terms of timing," said the source in reference to when Texas and Oklahoma would expect to formally join the SEC.
If the programs were to effort an SEC debut in 2022, each could owe up to $80 million to the Big 12 as a penalty for leaving before the current TV rights contract expires after the 2024-25 season. That total equals the combined revenue distribution per school of the last two years.
For that reason, the timing remains perhaps the biggest unknown. Would Texas and Oklahoma play four more seasons in the Big 12 to avoid paying penalties that would contribute to a long, ugly exit that one source compared to a bad divorce?
"I still think there is a clarity in terms of timing. If it's [finalized] in a week or two, and it's for next year, both of those institutions are going to owe the Big 12 a lot of money," the source told CBS Sports. "The lack of clarity and timing of this [is key]. When? How?"
University of Texas regents chair Kevin Elfite initiated the pitch, sources told CBS Sports on Thursday. Elfite is a 62-year-old commercial real estate investor in Tyler, Texas, who served in the Texas Senate from 2004-13. He was appointed as a regent to the UT system by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in 2019.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey would not address the reports while in attendance at 2021 SEC Media Days on Wednesday. Neither would Texas nor Oklahoma in statements released by the programs.
Texas and Oklahoma are the most prominent original members of the reformed Big 12, which emerged in 1996 as the former Big Eight added teams from the defunct Southwest Conference. However, the Big 12 was reduced to 10 teams during the last round of realignment a decade ago, and it has struggled to reclaim its footing among its Power Five peers.
UT and OU have propped up the league since its reduction in size, and with their departure imminent, it could put the Big 12 on the brink of collapse.
The source who spoke with CBS Sports under the condition of anonymity said the conference was not surprised at Texas' secrecy; however, it was disappointed in Oklahoma.
"As you can imagine, this stung," the source said. "... [Commissioner Bob Bowlsby] feels absolutely betrayed."
Multiple outlets reported Friday that Texas and Oklahoma had been in talks with the SEC for months prior to Wednesday's revelation.
The additions of the Longhorns and Sooners would make the SEC the first 16-team superconference -- a development long-discussed as a possibility should there be another round of conference realignment -- while simultaneously adding massive brand power to a league already seen as the best in college sports.
The programs have faced resistance from Texas A&M (SEC) and Oklahoma State (Big 12), which have respective vested interests in Texas and Oklahoma remaining in the Big 12.
As for the SEC, its by-laws state that 11 of 14 institutions must vote in the affirmative to invite new members to the conference. There may be some current SEC teams -- in addition to Texas A&M -- that are reluctant to accept additional league members for myriad reasons, including concerns about future expansion into their states. However, Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reports that "getting 11 of the 14 votes doesn't appear to be an issue."