Oklahoma State president Kayse Shrum said Monday that Oklahoma’s intentions to explore leaving the Big 12 are “the result of months of planning with the SEC” and a “clear breach” of the conference bylaws.
Shrum made the comments in a statement and in a series of tweets. In the statement, she called Oklahoma’s actions “strategic” and “deliberate.”
“It is difficult to understand how an Oklahoma institution of higher education would follow the University of Texas to the detriment of the State of Oklahoma,” added Shrum, who took over as president on July 1.
Earlier Monday, Oklahoma and Texas said in a joint statement released by both schools that they officially notified the Big 12 that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights after their expiration in 2025.
Big 12 sources told ESPN on Monday that the statement leaves some “wiggle room” and doesn’t fully guarantee that the flagship schools would remain in the league through 2025. The possibility remains that they will pay the $75-80 million penalty for leaving early, while also giving the required 18 months’ notice, per Big 12 bylaws. Some have speculated that this is the first legal maneuver, and the possibility also exists that if the Big 12 dissolves before 2025, OU and Texas would no longer be bound to stay through the duration of the contract.
The next step would be for Oklahoma and Texas to formally let the SEC know they want to join the conference. Then the SEC would need 11 of its 14 presidents and chancellors to agree to extend an invitation to the two schools.
Shrum said that OSU believes that Oklahoma’s announcement Monday is the result of ongoing discussions.
“These conversations, which developed over a long period, are a clear breach of the Big 12 Conference bylaws and broke the decades-long bond of trust between our universities,” she said in the statement.
She also tweeted that she has “received countless phone calls, texts and emails from high-ranking officials and members of the Cowboy family showing their support for OSU as we navigate the road ahead. Regardless of what comes next, OSU is dedicated to the State of Oklahoma.”
ESPN’s Heather Dinich contributed to this report.