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Update: ESPN denies making offer that triggered UT, OU departure

Texas and Oklahoma made about $34-35M annually from the current Big 12 contract, and that will rise to about $60M with jump to SECGETTY IMAGES

UPDATE: ESPN has issued a statement to SBJ regarding the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram article. The statement reads, "This story is false and misleading. ESPN has never had a single interaction with the Big 12 or provided any guidance about a new agreement beyond 2024-25, much less made an 'offer' as this article claims.” 

The "trigger" in Texas and Oklahoma’s decision to leave the Big 12 "centers around ESPN’s next offer to remain the league’s primary media right’s carrier," according to Mac Engel of the Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM. The contract does not "expire until after the 2024-25 season," but the parties were "already discussing what the new deal could look like." The offer was "going to be virtually the same as the 13-year deal the Big 12 signed with ESPN back in 2011 when the league agreed to a $2.6 billion contract that included Fox Sports as a partner to carry secondary games." The thought of "not being offered more by the nation’s largest sports carrier" was "more than enough reason for the powers that be at both Texas and Oklahoma to look to the Southeast." Texas and Oklahoma made "about $34 to $35 annually from this current contract with the Big 12." By going to the SEC, the respective take for each school should "increase to $60 million." The Big 12 approached ESPN and Fox "back in May about a new contract." Both networks said that it was "too early to talk about numbers." Considering the "rapidly evolving state of cable TV, streaming and cord cutting," the networks wanted "to play this out a little further." In "casual and unofficial conversations among administrators" it became "evident the numbers were going to be the same" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 9/3). Former OU coach Bob Stoops: “For the last umpteen years, the Big 12 has been last in line for TV contracts and Oklahoma and Texas finally just realized, ‘Look, we’ve to make this move to protect our brand moving forward for the next 20, 30, 40 years’” (“The Herd,” FS1, 9/2).

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