Bowlsby says ESPN helping other conferences poach Big 12 schools
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby sent a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN on Wednesday, saying the network has talked with at least one other conference about poaching Big 12 programs, according to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated.
"The Big 12 conference demands that ESPN immediately cease and desist all actions that may harm the conference and its members, and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference's existing members or any NCAA conference regarding the Big 12 conference's members, possible conference realignment, or potential financial incentive or outcomes related to possible conference realignment," Bowlsby said.
The conference reportedly gathered evidence that ESPN executives orchestrated the recent shakeup of the Big 12 with the intention of destroying it by communicating with multiple schools beyond Texas and Oklahoma, sources told Ryan Black of The Mercury.
"I have absolute certainty (ESPN) has been involved in manipulating other conferences to go after our members," Bowlsby said Wednesday, according to Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press.
"This whole thing has been a complete articulation of deception," he added.
ESPN released a statement responding to the Big 12, saying, "The claims in the letter have no merit."
The Longhorns and Sooners informed the Big 12 this week they won't renew their grants of media rights after it expires in 2025. The two schools have also formally submitted requests to join the SEC. They now need at least 11 approval votes from the 14 SEC presidents to expand the conference.