College football could soon be seeing a domino effect amid the SEC's expansion to include add the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma to its league.
ESPN reports the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference, and Pac-12 "are expected to formally announce an alliance between the three leagues in the next seven to 10 days," multiple sources involved in the conservation confirmed, although noting that substance of the reported agreement remains in flux.
The move continues what has already been a seismic shift in the college football landscape, following two Big-12 founders and national powerhouses joining the already loaded SEC, the NCAA's approval for players to be allowed compensation for name, image and likeness (NIL), playoff expansion and a Supreme Court ruling that allows the antitrust litigation against the NCAA and its membership.
"Is that about philosophy, governance, scheduling?" one athletic director asked ESPN. "It could be all of those things."
The three Power 5 conferences reportedly began exploring a countermove once Texas and Oklahoma announced their intentions to join the SEC last month.
ESPN reports an "alliance committee" that includes several athletic directors from each of the three leagues, as well as the three commissioners, to determine whether an alliance is the best option moving forward.
Members of those subcommittees are reportedly expected to hold a phone call in the coming days to address a plan for a formal announcement, multiple administrators with direct knowledge of the discussions confirmed to ESPN.
One AD confirmed to ESPN that the scope of the alliance remains uncertain as initial talks involved all sports, but recent conversations have focused solely on football and both men's and women's basketball.
Texas and Oklahoma officially accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference in 2025 last month.
ESPN reports the board of regents for both Big 12 Conference founding schools voted unanimously to formally accept an invitation to join the conference.
"This is the right decision at the right time for the future of our UT athletics programs," Texas president Jay Hartzell said in a statement obtained by ESPN.
The next step for both schools is to determine when the move can become a reality and the fate of the remaining eight schools in the Big 12 Conference.
Last month, ESPN reported the 14 SEC presidents and chancellors all approved the founding Big 12 Conference schools' request, leaving OU and Texas to officially accept the conference's offer as the final piece to complete future realignment.
Oklahoma's board is met in Oklahoma City while Texas' contingency participated in a conference call on Friday morning.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankeyconfirmed he received "formal requests for invitations" from the "two esteemed academic institutions with storied athletics programs" in a statement onSECSports.com on July 27.
"While the SEC has not proactively sought new members, we will pursue significant change when there is a clear consensus among our members that such actions will further enrich the experiences of our student-athletes and lead to greater academic and athletic achievement across our campuses. The Presidents and Chancellors of the SEC, in their capacity as the conference's Chief Executive Officers, will consider these requests in the near future. Per the Bylaws of the SEC, a vote of at least three-fourths of the SEC's 14 members is required to extend an invitation for membership."
On July 26, the two rival programs issued a joint statement to the Big 12 announcing that neither planned to renew their "grants of media rights following expiration in 2025."
"The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Oklahoma notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025," the statement reads. "Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference's current media rights agreement. The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future."
Last month, Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reported the two college football powerhouses joining the SEC was "almost done" and "could become official in a week," according to a "prominent Big 12 source."
Additionally, the Big 12 source told the Austin American-Statesman "they've been working on this for a minimum of six months, and the [Texas] A&M leadership was left out of discussions and wasn't told about it."
Chip Brown of Horns247 reported Texas and Oklahoma plan to "inform the Big 12 on Monday that they won't renew when the league's grant of rights expire in 2025," and that a move to the SEC is inevitable "barring any unforeseen developments," according to "a high-level source close to the situation."
Last month, Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork told reporters at SEC Media Days that he was hoping for the Aggies to remain the conference's only team from Texas amid reports of the Longhorns possibly joining the conference.
Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reported both the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma could be announced as additions to the SEC "within a couple of weeks," citing "a high-ranking college official with knowledge of the situation" on Wednesday afternoon.
CommissionerGreg Sankey was asked about the report during SEC Media Days shortly after it was shared publicly.
"No comment on that speculation," Sankey said, later adding, "We are only worried about the 2021 season. Somebody dropped a report from unnamed people."
A&M and Missouri, both previously part of the Big 12, joined the SEC during the last round of conference realignment in 2011.
The potential addition of the two college football powerhouses would restore the annual rivalry between the University of Texas and Texas A&M, which was played from 1915-2011, until the Aggies joined the SEC.
Additionally, the Longhorns and Sooners -- two of college football's biggest rivals -- would continue the Red River Shootout in their new conference.
The SEC would also become the first 16-team superconference, which has long been reported as a possibility during another round of conference realignment.