Early Big 12 Exit by OU, Texas Seems Dead; League Discussing Potential Gonzaga Addition

The next chapter in the whirlwind drama that’s been Oklahoma and Texas’ exit from the Big 12 to the SEC may end up being anticlimactic.

Officially scheduled to leave for the SEC in 2025, OU and Texas recently made an offer to leave a year early in 2024. According to a report by ESPN college football writer Pete Thamel, those negotiations between the two bell cow schools and the league are “not expected to come to fruition.”

Big 12 brass met in Dallas this week to discuss a number of big-ticket items including the early OU-Texit as well as the potential of adding hoops power Gonzaga to the league.

Divorcing two premium brands from a power conference can get complicated. You’ve got revenue that has to be split up and decided, between the league’s schools from both ESPN and Fox, not to mention the scheduling implications with the four new incoming programs in BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF.

The ESPN article cited sources stating that the negotiations on the schools’ early split fell apart as the sides were unable to decide on an equitable value for what Fox would lose in 2024. If that holds true, the two schools are still set to depart to the SEC in 2025.

Gonzaga a Key Topic, As Well

Also topping the docket for the Big 12’s leaders is the potential addition of Gonzaga, a school without football but rich in hoops tradition and value. League commissioner Brett Yormak has been pursuing the school as a basketball-only addition, though no power conference currently has a hoops-only member. Gonzaga doesn’t have a football program.

Gonzaga has been looking to leave the West Coast Conference in search of a bigger cut of the NCAA Tournament pie. From 1999-2019, the program accounted for more than 70 percent of the WCC’s 75 NCAA revenue “units.” The program has also reportedly cast an eye toward the Pac-12, but it appears the Big 12 is the desired landing spot. This week, Big 12 ADs will get to see the pitch for how Zags would fit into the league from a money standpoint.

Football is king, but hoops is second and adding a premier program like Gonzaga would only stabilize the conference’s footing as the top basketball program in the nation.