On Wednesday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby shocked the sports world when he sent an eye-opening cease and desist letter to ESPN regarding the current state of the conference.
Bowlsby alleged in the letter that ESPN reached out to at least one of the remaining Big 12 teams about potentially leaving the conference.
“It has come to my direct attention that ESPN, the current business partner of the Big 12 Conference, has taken certain actions that are intended to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN,” Bowlsby wrote. “Setting aside ESPN’s potential involvement in the recent announcement by the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma that they intend to leave the Big 12 Conference in 2025 (as to which we reserve all legal rights), I am aware that ESPN has also been 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.”
Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated added even more damning evidence.
“Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby tells Sports Illustrated that he has documented evidence that ESPN tried to encourage an unnamed conference to add Big 12 members in an effort to destabilize the league so Texas & OU could avoid exit fees,” Dellenger reported on Twitter.
CBS Sports reports the American Athletic Conference is working with ESPN to take 3-5 remaining Big 12 teams.
Soon after, the Worldwide Leader In Sports would send the following response: “The claims in the letter have no merit.”
ESPN, which owns the SEC Network, signed a new $3 billion deal with the Southeastern Conference last year that will give the network the broadcast rights to all SEC sports starting in 2024.