Path (to Pac-12?) Cleared for Texas, Oklahoma

September 20, 2011

The boards of regents at the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma on Monday afternoon gave their presidents the O.K. to leave the Big 12 Conference, paving the way for another major (though not unexpected) shakeup during what has already been an eventful week in college athletics. On Sunday, the University of Pittsburgh and Syracuse University came nearly out of nowhere in announcing they would leave the Big East Conference to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, triggering an online explosion of speculation about the fate of the Big East. While further conference realignment was anticipated after Texas A&M University received approval from its governing board and announced last month that it would leave the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference, Sunday’s news seemed a shock to many.

Texas and Oklahoma are expected to seek membership in the Pacific-12 Conference, part of a general movement of Football Bowl Subdivision colleges away from regional leagues and toward four, 16-team “superconferences.” The athletics futures of the universities that have not made a move this far are unclear, and officials at several of the institutions said that their presidents were involved in intense discussions with their peers. Many speculated Monday that the Big East and Big 12 leagues could implode, combine, or dissolve completely. Reports surfaced Monday that the University of Connecticut and Rutgers University, two of the remaining colleges in the Big East, were aggressively exploring their options.

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