Texas Senate committee discusses economic impact of UT leaving Big 12

News of the University of Texas moving to the Southeastern Conference continues to be the talk of the state, this time at the legislative level.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appointed a committee during this legislative session to look at the economic impact UT playing in another conference would have. 

"As much as the economic impact is going to happen it's going to happen," state Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) said. "It's real, it sounds like the ship may have sailed or flagship may have sailed and moved on but in that there is a process I think all of us on this panel can agree at a minimum it wasn't transparent if not almost under the table and a way we would not expect from our university system."

On Friday, the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma both officially accepted an invitation to join the SEC effective in 2025—meaning they'll be out of the Big 12. 

"I don't know why we have to assume it's something negative," state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) said. "There may be an entity or realignment that would allow these communities to continue to flourish."

Retired economics professor Bernard Weinstein was called on by the committee to discuss the move. "I don't believe losing UT and OU to the SEC spells doom and gloom for big-time collegiate athletics in Texas and I don't necessarily mean the demise of the Big 12. What matters is what comes next."

Weinstein suggested the Big 12 could expand its fanbase in other parts of Texas and noted that the two major metro areas of Houston and Dallas do not have college representation in any major conference.

Later during the committee hearing, representatives from the Big 12 spoke out against UT and OU's decision to leave and how it will impact the other schools in the conference.

"The two that are leaving have done so without notifying us and with no accounting for their reasons," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "If the inclusion of OU and UT in the SEC is intended to disrupt collegiate athletics, it will certainly accomplish that."

When word was first going around about UT leaving the Big 12, bills were filed in both the Texas House and Senate which would require universities to get legislative approval in order to move conferences. With it being a special session, these bills cannot get passed as they are not on the governor's call sheet and even if they were, with the House not in quorum, discussion of the bills at the House level cannot take place.

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