Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby issued one of the strongest statements in recent memory against ESPN, accusing the sports media giant of meddling in the conference and attempting the manipulate other NCAA conferences to raid the Big 12 for their remaining teams.
It now appears, reported by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports, that Bowlsby and the Big 12 believe the AAC is trying to pull all eight remaining schools into the AAC, spurred by ESPN. Dodd originally reported that the AAC only wanted 3-5 schools before further reporting all Big 12 teams were targeted.
Big 12 now believes the American is attempting to take all eight remaining members. Earlier report said "3-5" Big 12 members were being solicited Bob Bowlsby told CBS Sports. Story up soon.
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 29, 2021
Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger reported that Bowlsby told SI that ESPN, with documented evidence that he cannot share, tried to encourage the AAC to add the remaining Big 12 schools to the Group of 5 conference in order to destabilize the Big 12 and allow Oklahoma and Texas to avoid any exit fees — whether that’s by Big 12 bylaws or in terms of the TV deal.
Accusing ESPN of tampering with other NCAA conferences in order to effectively destroy the Big 12 is a bold claim from Bowlsby, and it’ll be very interesting to see whether he’ll produce the evidence he says he possesses.
Can confirm that the unnamed conference that Bowlsby is referencing is the American, source tells @SINow.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 28, 2021
Meanwhile, Oklahoma and Texas are nearing the final step in joining the SEC — and will have some help from an unexpected source. The SEC league meeting on Thursday, Dellenger reported, is expected to end with SEC presidents inviting Oklahoma and Texas to officially join the conference. With both Big 12 schools having meetings scheduled for Friday, they’re expected to accept their invites then.
Been warned not to predict what presidents will do once in a room. That said, SEC presidents are expected to extend invites to Texas & OU at Thursday’s meeting, sources tell @SINow.
OU & Texas will then accept invites at board meetings Friday.
The ship, as they say, has sailed.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 29, 2021
Texas A&M, who has been long thought to strongly oppose Texas’s entry into the SEC, is expected to vote in favor of Oklahoma and Texas Thursday, according to the Austin American-Statesman‘s Brian Davis. Needing three-fourths approval from the SEC, if A&M isn’t going to oppose, it’s unlikely enough opposition will be raised.
Davis reported that the “board concluded that this expansion would enhance the long-term value of the SEC to student athletes and all of the institutions they represent — including Texas A&M.”
Texas A&M regents announce they will vote YES to include Texas and OU: "The board concluded that this expansion would enhance the long-term value of the SEC to student athletes and all of the institutions they represent — including Texas A&M."
— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) July 28, 2021
So, with the Big 12-ESPN tampering story expected to play out, the Big 12 officially requesting a written assurance from ESPN by noon central time Thursday, Oklahoma and Texas may be approved to join the SEC as early as tomorrow.