Rebalancing college football: ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro says Oklahoma, Texas will remain in the Big 12 through 2025

The Big 12 will be home to the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns for a few more seasons, according to a top ESPN executive.

That has been widely reported since news broke last fall that the Sooners and Longhorns were leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, but there has been speculation that the programs could exit the Big 12 early.

However, in an interview with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch — on Deitsch’s independent Sports Media Podcast — ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro reiterated that Texas and Oklahoma will indeed remain in the Big 12 through 2025.

ESPN acquired the SEC television package currently held by CBS in December 2020, and the 10-year deal between the SEC and ESPN is effective in 2024.

While discussing this deal and ESPN’s plans for the SEC, Pitaro explained, among other things, that the network will broadcast one non-conference game for each SEC team each year, starting with a total of 14 games in 2024 before expanding to 16 increases total games in 2025 when Oklahoma and Texas join the conference.

“Once Texas and Oklahoma are in, we will have 16 non-conference games, one per team. said Pitaro. “Well, with Texas and Oklahoma, it’s going to be 2025, so it’s going to be 14 (games) in 2024.

“That was the deal we made with the SEC a year ago.”

The Big 12 will expand to 14 teams next season when BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF join in time to compete as conference members in 2023-24.

Cincinnati, Houston and UCF have all negotiated early exits from the American Athletic Conference, while BYU, as an independent club, has always planned to join the Big 12 in 2023.

On ESPN’s negotiations with Pac-12 and Big Ten

Utah QB Cam Rising runs the ball during the Pac-12 Championship game against Oregon at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

Utah Utes quarterback Cam Rising (7) runs the ball during the Pac-12 championship game against the Oregon Ducks at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, December 3, 2021.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Pitaro also answered questions about ongoing ESPN negotiations with the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences regarding media rights.

Referring specifically to the Big Ten, Pitaro noted, “We have a great relationship with the Big Ten. They’re certainly a rising conference at the moment and I’m not just talking about football. I have a very good relationship with Kevin (Warren), their commissioner.

“You’ve been a big part of ESPN for a long time. It’s no secret here… we’re in discussions. As with any other property, we enter these discussions with the understanding that we cannot get everything and we will proceed with discipline and prudence.

“We’re in full swing right now. But we love the Big Ten. I think everyone loves the Big Ten. They are currently in a very good position.”

Regarding the Pac-12, Pitaro added, “Is there less stock (due to ESPN’s deal with the SEC)? Of course there is, but there’s plenty of space and we follow both conferences (the Big Ten and Pac-12).

“We definitely aim for both. Each conference contract is treated on a case-by-case basis. When we closed the SEC deal, no one at ESPN said we were moving away from the other conferences.”

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