Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told The Associated Press that ESPN is pushing other conferences to pick apart the league so Texas and Oklahoma can move to the Southeastern Conference without paying a massive buyout.
“I have absolute certainty they (ESPN) have been involved in manipulating other conferences to go after our members,” Bowlsby said Wednesday in a phone interview.
The Big 12 has sent a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN.
In the letter, the Big 12 demanded the network stop “all actions that may harm the Conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference’s existing Members or any other NCAA Conference regarding the Big 12 Conference’s Members, possible conference realignment or potential financial incentives or outcomes related to possible conference realignment.”
ESPN issued a statement later Wednesday, saying, “The claims in the letter have no merit.”
Texas and Oklahoma informed the Big 12 this week that they would not be renewing an agreement with the conference that binds them to the league and its eight other members until 2025.
On Tuesday, the schools submitted a request to the SEC to join that league in 2025. To join the conference earlier than that could cost the schools tens of millions of dollars.
Bowlsby told AP that Texas and Oklahoma have been working on a move to the SEC for months, doing so while taking part in Big 12 strategy meetings where proprietary information was shared.
“This whole thing has been a complete articulation of deception,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.