The college sports world was rocked this week when the Houston Chronicle reported on Wednesday that Texas and Oklahoma have expressed interest in leaving the Big XII for the SEC. This potential move would completely change the dynamics within collegiate athletics.
Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC would shift the power structure significantly and put the Big XII on life support. It also would mean the governing body that is the NCAA would be in even more peril after the past month resulted in a significant loss of authority. Our latest podcast episode details all of the changes here.
While conference expansion is a fun topic to debate and how the Big Ten would react to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC would be fascinating to track, there is a real reason connected to Rutgers as to why it seems likely this move will actually take place.
Last month, it was reported that Rutgers Deputy Athletic Director Sarah Baumgartner was set to take a newly created position at Texas. While this move has yet to be officially announced, the courting of Baumgartner by Texas in a way confirms they are in fact pursuing a move to the SEC.
Before coming to Rutgers, Baumgartner developed and led Missouri’s fundraising campaign for the school’s transition into the SEC in 2012. From her Rutgers bio:
“At Missouri, Baumgartner oversaw a 15-member staff that raised $84 million towards Mizzou’s “Going for Gold” campaign. The athletics annual fund, Tiger Scholarship Fund, increased donor membership by 60 percent and annual fund gift growth by 40 percent. She successfully developed and executed the fundraising plan to capitalize on Missouri’s transition from the Big 12 Conference to the SEC, which saw record highs for donor membership and dollars raised at Mizzou.”
It seems likely that Baumgartner joining Texas in a newly created position would be a direct cause of joining the SEC. Her direct experience in leading a fundraising campaign for Missouri joining the SEC makes her perfectly qualified to take on a similar role at Texas.
Not only does that make it seem likely Texas will soon be a member of the SEC, but it also indicates this has been in the works for much longer than previously thought. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reported this to be the case on Friday.
Prominent Big 12 source tells the American-Statesman the Texas-OU move to the SEC is almost done. "They've been working on this for a minimum of 6 months, and the A&M leadership was left out of discussions and wasn't told about it." Move could become official in a week.— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) July 23, 2021
We will have plenty of discussion in the near future about conference expansion and how it could impact the Big Ten and Rutgers soon. However, the primary takeaway so far from a Rutgers perspective on the question of whether Texas and Oklahoma will actually join the SEC seems to be answered by the initial news of Baumgartner set to trade Scarlet for Burnt Orange.