Texas Senate panel explores future of college sports amid UT’s switch from Big 12 to SEC

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As the Lone Star State’s flagship collegiate institution plans its exit from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference, Texas lawmakers want to explore their legislative oversight over future athletic decisions made by the University of Texas and other universities.

The Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas, which Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick created last week, meets at 1 p.m. at the Texas Capitol on Monday, for lawmakers to study the athletic and economic impact to Texas schools and communities by the Longhorns’ decision to find a new home in the SEC.

“Collegiate athletics bring Texans together in celebration of our state’s rich athletic heritage and our Texas identity,” Patrick said in a statement last week. “It is vital that the Texas Senate understand the economic and athletic impact of the University of Texas leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.”

State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, who earned his master’s degree in business administration and his law degree from Texas Tech, filed legislation to require legislative approval before a public senior college or university can change membership in a collegiate athletic conference. His bill had 40 co-authors as of Aug. 2.

  • A committee tasked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to look at the future of college sports in Texas held its first hearing Monday. (KXAN photo/Wes Rapaport)
  • A committee tasked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to look at the future of college sports in Texas held its first hearing Monday. (KXAN photo/Wes Rapaport)

“Texas lauds some of the finest universities and athletic programs in the nation. Their impact reaches far beyond their superiority in the classroom, distinction in research, and excellence on the field,” Burrows said in a statement. “They play a significant role in the economic development, tourism, and overall prominence of their respective regions.”

“A decision to switch to a different athletic conference affects the opportunity and stability of our publicly-funded universities across the state and must be fully vetted in the most transparent and comprehensive manner possible,” Burrows added. “The exceptionalism of the great state of Texas must not be left in the hands of a few but is a responsibility to be shared by all.”

A companion bill was filed in the Texas Senate.

There are some potential roadblocks to this legislation becoming a reality. With House Democrats in Washington, D.C. after fleeing the state Capitol to thwart the GOP-led elections bill, there is not a quorum in the chamber, meaning there aren’t enough members to conduct business. Furthermore, the collegiate sports issue is not on the Governor’s special session agenda, which is a requirement for any bill to be passed during a special session. Gov. Greg Abbott could add it to his special session call if he chooses.

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