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LOOK: Big 12 sends ESPN cease-and-desist letter

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The conference has successfully identified the real villain in conference realignment.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report from Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, the legal maneuvering in conference realignment got off to a start on Wednesday with the Big 12 sending a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN.

Sports Illustrated obtained the letter:

The relocation of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC moved quickly this week — on Monday, the two schools informed the Big 12 of their intent to withdraw from the conference in 2025, requested an invitation to the SEC on Tuesday, and now await a vote by the SEC presidents on that invitation, which is expected to happen on Thursday.

The Big 12 has correctly identified ESPN as a key architect of conference realignment, determining the winners and losers and providing the monetary incentive for schools like Texas and Oklahoma to make the move to the SEC, as well as engaging in contact with at least one other current member, according to the letter.

Now ESPN’s lawyers will have to determine whether the Big 12 has legal standing to try to enforce the embargo on communications with important topics like how the Longhorn Network will fold into the SEC Network looming for Texas and whether ESPN will renegotiate the contract it just signed with the SEC.

Meanwhile, lawyers at Texas and Oklahoma are no doubt trying to determine how the schools can leave the Big 12 before 2025 and how much it’s going to cost.

Billable hours, as always, remain undefeated.

[7/28 6:00 p.m. Central update]:

Some strong claims made by Bowlsby here that could end up getting litigated in court: