- Dave Wilson is an editor for ESPN.com since 2010. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Las Vegas Sun.
Despite incoming Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark saying he would be willing to seek out a “win-win scenario” for Texas and Oklahoma to depart the conference early, the two schools’ athletic directors said on Monday that nothing has changed on a potential exit date.
The SEC has said Texas and Oklahoma will join the league on July 1, 2025, but there has been speculation that they could or would prefer to join earlier. Yormark said at Big 12 media days last week that he was open to an amicable breakup.
“That being said, it’s important that whatever happens is in the best interest of this conference,” he said, “but I look forward to the right time to have those conversations.”
After speaking at a session together on navigating change in athletic departments at the Texas High School Coaches’ Association conference in San Antonio, the ADs said they had yet to have any of those discussions.
“Look, I know people are asking a lot of those questions and it’s fair,” Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione said. “There’s a lot changing around us. If that facilitates a conversation that needs to take place about an earlier departure then it does. But I have said very consistently – I know my counterpart [at Texas] Chris Del Conte said the same thing, as have our presidents – that we informed the conference that we would lead after ’25 and we plan on fulfilling our obligations and do the honorable thing.”
Del Conte said he has yet to meet Yormark or have a conversation with him other than leaguewide Zoom meetings.
“We’re in the Big 12,” Del Conte said. “We’re going to honor our commitments. Those things are all premature.”
Both Castiglione and Del Conte, who are close friends and talk nearly daily, they said, mentioned they were not surprised by further dominoes in realignment with USC and UCLA exiting the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.
Castiglione said their moves were similar to the thought process he went through in trying to find the best fit for the Sooners.
“You have to look over the horizon,” Castiglione said. “And so we were doing that. It doesn’t mean we were discrediting anybody we were with or that we lacked loyalty or anything like that. But we have been watching these changes evolve over quite a few years. Many years. We just felt like there were going to be some massive changes. Now, a year later, there’s been a lot evolve. So some of it is, in a sense, consistent with what we saw over the horizon.”
Del Conte was asked about Mike Gundy’s comments that if he were the Big 12 commissioner, he wouldn’t allow Texas or Oklahoma in the league’s business meetings.
“I understand coaches,” he said. “You’ve got to wear that emotion on your sleeves. Coach Gundy is incredible human being, a great coach, and what a program he’s built at Oklahoma State. But I get it.”
Both Del Conte and Castiglione were complimentary of the Big 12 and what the conference has done to add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF since their own departures were announced.
“Right now we’re trying to help,” Castiglione said. “It may sound a little bit disingenuous, and I don’t mean it to sound that way. I’m not naive, but we’re trying to do everything we can to be supportive and be a great member in the Big 12 while we’re still here.”
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