AUSTIN, Texas (Nexstar) — When Texas Tech men’s basketball hosts the University of Texas Monday night, it will be one of their last matchups in Lubbock before UT exits the Big 12 for the SEC. While Tech may miss one of its rivals, and their city will miss the money they bring, leaders in the Big 12 community are signaling more confidence about the shakeup than before.
Eighteen months after UT and OU announced they will part ways with the Big 12, they doubled down by foregoing more than $100 million to leave a year earlier than originally planned.
“I think the SEC and the Big 12 are both gonna be in good shape,” former Texas Tech University System Chancellor Kent Hance said. “[UT] wanted to leave early and they gave us $100 million to leave early. If they wanted to give us $200 million, they could probably even have left last year. I mean, that’s a good deal.”
That foregone revenue pales in comparison to the money the Longhorns bring into the conference, however. One estimate by the research firm The Perryman Group reports the loss of UT and OU will cost the Big 12 almost $940 million per year and 12,000 jobs. Texas Big 12 cities alone, like Lubbock, Waco, and Fort Worth, could lose almost $400 million and more than 5,300 jobs.
Even with those local losses, UT’s shift to the SEC is expected to be a net benefit for the state as a whole.
“It’s actually better spending for Texas because now we’re going to take Alabama’s dollars,” Dr. Matt Patton, Executive Vice President of Angelou Economics said. “Instead of Texas dollars just circling through Texas, we’re gonna pull all of those out-of-state spends coming into Austin. In the same way that we celebrate things like COTA or ACL, all these people come in from all over the world spending money from elsewhere in Texas.”
Angelou Economics’ own estimate places Texas Athletics’ economic impact at more than $728 million per year. The City of Austin directly enjoys about 85% of that, while more than $100 million of economic impact is spread throughout the rest of the state.
High-dollar influence like that led some state lawmakers to raise concerns when UT first announced its departure from the Big 12 in 2021. The Texas Senate formed their Select Committee on the Future of College Sports, inviting UT leaders to public testimony in which senators from the remaining Big 12 schools accused the university of violating conference bylaws.
“If you were as big and great as you think you are, you would have made the Big 12 equal to or better than the SEC, and you didn’t do it,” Lubbock State Senator Charles Perry told UT President Jay Hartzell last year.
But other Big 12 leaders have softened that tone recently, citing new additions to the conference they believe will ensure its longevity.
“I think everything’s come calmed down and things are stabilizing. Everybody’s going to be happy where they are,” Chancellor Hance said. “They found four [new schools]. That puts us in almost every time zone. And they’re good schools. It’s going to work out for both schools, it’s gonna be fine. And both will do well.”
The University of Houston, University of Cincinnati, Brigham Young University, and the University of Central Florida will officially join the Big 12 later this year.