Texas lawmakers draft bill to require approval of conference realignment

Texas state lawmakers have voiced concerns to Gov. Greg Abbott about the Texas Longhorns leaving the Big 12, and drafted a bill requiring legislative approval of conference realignment.

Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), who chairs the House Appropriations Committee and attended Texas A&M; Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), who received his law degree and MBA from Texas Tech and chairs the House Calendars Committee; Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), who chairs the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence and was a student body president at Baylor; and Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and a former TCU athlete, met with Abbott’s staff Thursday, according to The Texas Tribune.


Three of the influential Texas state lawmaker’s names — Bonnen, Burrows and Leach — were attached to a bill requiring legislative approval of conference realignment, Saturday Down South reports.

Leach said the state legislature has an obligation to be involved in Texas potentially leaving the Big 12 for the SEC in a series of tweets.

“The lack of transparency by our flagship institution is wrong,” Leach tweeted. “Such a monumental economic and educational decision impacting the entire state must not be made in a bubble on the forty acres. Working on legislation requiring legislative approval for UT to bolt the BIG XII.”

” … The impact UT’s decision would have on communities & businesses all across Texas would be real, substantial and potentially devastating,” he tweeted. “On behalf of those concerned Texans, the Texas Legislature has an obligation to be involved.”

Sen. Brian Birdwell filed a companion bill to the bill filed by Burrows, which would require legislative approval before a public senior college or university can change membership in a collegiate athletic conference.


“This legislation would inhibit the proposed move of the University of Texas to the SEC without legislative approval,” Birdwell said in a statement. “Such a move would negatively impact other Big 12 schools in our state like Baylor, TCU, and Texas Tech. These schools and their surrounding communities heavily depend on the financial income that BIG 12 football provides.”

“The University of Texas is an agent of the state and is ultimately making an economic decision solely focused on their own welfare,” Birdwell said. “What is best for the University of Texas may not be best for the state as a whole. The legislature represents the best interest of the state. Therefore, this decision cannot be made independently without legislative approval. This bill is the necessary course of action to avoid universities making decisions that are for their betterment but to the detriment of the state.”

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