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Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby Stood Before Texas State Legislature Monday

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It’s been a busy Monday for Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, meeting with the Texas state legislature to discuss the future of collegiate athletics in Texas. Of course, those discussions will have long-lasting impacts upon all Big 12 schools.

Bowlsby stood before the Texas legislature, answering questions about the future of the Big 12 — including financial implications, the state of Texas collegiate athletics and how the Big 12 will function moving forward following the losses of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC.

Among the earlier portions of Bowlsby’s hearing, he discussed the potential revenue loss expected now that Oklahoma and Texas will officially be leaving the conference. The Athletic‘s Sam Khan Jr. highlighted the drastic losses expected in wake of the exits.

With the current TV deal running through 2025, a $14 million loss in television revenue per season, at Bowlsby’s estimate, would be harsh. With Oklahoma and Texas accounting for roughly 50% of the Big 12 television distribution, that $14 million without Oklahoma and Texas is still double the AAC’s revenue, according to The Athletic’s Chris Vannini.

The Athletic‘s Max Olson reported Bowlsby’s response to a question regarding the dissolution of the Big 12, with Bowlsby stating a judge would likely decide the conference’s potential dissolution in the event of dissolution (which hasn’t been discussed), which would render the Big 12 grant of rights agreements null and void.

However, Bowlsby said in conversations he’s had with the remaining eight Big 12 schools that there’s a consensus agreement that sticking together and working on a solution for the Big 12 moving forward is best — and that that’s the plan moving forward. Yet with his complete shock at the Oklahoma and Texas departure, can Bowlsby’s anticipation be trusted?

The “shocking” Oklahoma and Texas departures for Bowlsby came on the heels of an unprecedented move from both Big 12 powerhouses reaching out to the premier conference in college athletics. With both schools not notifying Bowlsby within 12 hours of conversation taking place, according to section 3.2 of the Big 12 by-laws, Bowlsby said both schools did not comply with Big 12 by-laws.

Regardless of whether or not Oklahoma and Texas complied with the by-laws, Bowlsby said the Big 12 will have options moving forward. Although, despite repeated questioning from the Texas legislature, he could divulge any particulars Monday.

In discussion with Texas senator John Whitmire, Bowlsby reiterated that he has not held discussion with any prospective schools in terms of Big 12 expansion. He said he’s spoken with the remaining Big 12 schools every day at this point.

Over the next handful of years, until Oklahoma and Texas officially leave for the SEC for the 2025-26 season (as of right now), Bowlsby said he will continue to honor the two schools’ student-athletes and he’s sure the two schools will continue to do the same regarding their conference participation. He said the two sides will need to make the situation work until the grant of rights deal expires in 2025. Olson further reported how even if Oklahoma and Texas wish to pay the buyout and exit the Big 12 before the end of the TV deal, the grant of rights is still enforced through the completion of the deal.

While Bowlsby said to be a little careful about reading the popular media during a slow news time regarding questions about a superconference or megaconference, the conversation once again shifted to the idea of Oklahoma and Texas deceiving the Big 12, and Bowlsby said these sorts of decisions don’t occur overnight, usually taking weeks or months.

Despite having said there have not been any discussions, directly or indirectly, with other conferences regarding talks over the Big 12 reaching out to potential new conference members, Bowlsby said continuing the Big 12 will be a long-term process. He said there will be more conversations to come, that talks have begun to revolve around strategy and that execution will take some time. He said these talks won’t be rapid nor will they bear immediate fruits. With Board of Trustees, Regents, etc. in place, any expansion will not be a quick process.

Bowlsby said he’s seen nothing from any member school that indicates the dissolution of the Big 12 conference.

Finally, when asked about a potential package deal of Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU, Bowlsby said there have been no discussions packing the three together. He said all eight remaining schools are communicating as a conference right now and the best course of action is to remain together.

Additionally, in the wake of the Big 12’s cease and desist letter to ESPN last week, Bowlsby said, “we have agreed to not escalate this publicly.” However, it’s almost certain further matters — most likely in court — will continue between the two parties.

With Monday’s Texas state legislature hearing providing one of the first state-level discussions regarding the consequences of the Oklahoma and Texas Big 12 exits, it certainly won’t be the last. Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas will continue to discuss options moving forward. And of course, as West Virginia is the only school far, far from the Big 12 headquarters, WVU will continue to slip by without much discussion.

Although, when asked about WVU’s travel for games against Baylor, Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said WVU travels fairly well for games in Waco. WVU’s inclusion in the Big 12 commitment to remaining a united front remains unchanged, according to Bowlsby.

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