Why did the two schools bolt?
It is never a good thing when a sitting United States Senator wants to know about your business. Kansas Senator Roger Marshall is curious. Did the Walt Disney Company’s ESPN have anything to do with the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference? Marshall has sent a letter to the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department wanting them to check into the reasons the two schools left. “I write today to ask the DOJ investigate ESPN’s role in the potential destruction of the Big 12 conference and if any anti-competitive or illegal behavior occurred relating to manipulating the conference change or ESPN’s contractual television rights.” Marshall thinks that ESPN will directly benefit from both programs being in the SEC because it holds the television rights for the SEC.
On July 28th, The Big 12 sent a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN , one of the current media rights partners of the conference. FOX is the other media rights partner. The Big 12 accused ESPN of violating Section 20.2(c) of the Telecast Agreement with the Big 12 that states the network will not “take any actions likely to impair, or inconsistent with the rights of the league under the agreement.” The Big 12 also accused ESPN of attempting to push Big 12 members into other conferences. The American Athletic Conference denied it was going to poach any of the remaining eight Big 12 members. The American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco claimed neither his conference and ESPN had “strategically aligned or plotted to influence conference structures,” and said that the two entities plotting together “a completely unfounded and grossly irresponsible accusation.” The Big 12 decided not to challenge ESPN. College football is a business, a cutthroat business at that and it’s because of television money.
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