ESPN denies accusations of trying to break up the Big 12

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Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - ESPN is denying accusations made by Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who accused them of actively trying to break up the Big 12 so Oklahoma and Texas can move into the SEC more quickly and avoid paying a massive buyout.

Bowlsby made the claim in a letter on Wednesday, demanding that ESPN Cease and Desist, according to the terms of the Telecast Agreement between ESPN and the Big 12.

The letter, addressed to ESPN executive Burke Magnus, said the network had taken actions “to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN.”

Bowlsby said ESPN has “actively engaged in discussions with at least one other conference regarding that conference inducing additional Members of the Big 12 Conference to leave the Big 12 Conference.”

Bowlsby told USA Today he has proof that ESPN would like another league to “take three to five of our members,”

Texas and Oklahoma have asked to join the conference in 2025. To join earlier than that would cost the schools tens of millions, unless the Big 12 were to fall apart.

Burke Magnus, ESPN president of programming and original content, has dismissed the claims, saying they are “completely without merit” so there is “nothing to ‘cease and desist.’”

The SEC voted to invite Texas and Oklahoma to the conference on Thursday, with presidents and chancellors voting unanimously to extend membership invitations, effect July 1, 2025.

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