Big 12 sends ESPN cease-and-desist letter amid conference realignment

Bob Bowlsby
Posted at 7:15 PM, Jul 28, 2021

The Big 12 Conference has sent ESPN a cease and desist letter amid the news that the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas are looking to leave the conference.

According to the Associated Press, the conference claims ESPN conspired with other conferences to poach other Big 12 teams and convince them to leave the Big 12.

First reported by Yahoo! Sports' Pete Thamel, the conference asked the Wide World of Sports to end "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 NCAA conference regarding the Big 12 conference's members, possible conference realignment or potential financial incentive or outcomes related to possible conference realignment."

According to Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton, the letter to ESPN has nothing to do with "derailing Texas/OU vote tomorrow by the SEC."

“It is absolutely obvious that ESPN has been in contact with at least one conference about [the] destabilization of the Big 12 by taking three to five of our members to another conference," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a phone interview with Carlton. "There were incentives discussed for that conference to go and take those members. So that’s as clear a tortious interference with our business as you can possibly have."

News of the letter comes as OU and Texas announced on Monday that both schools plan to leave the Big 12 in 2025 when their current grant of media rights expires.

Both schools are reportedly in talks to join the Southeastern Conference.