Texas and Oklahoma are officially heading to the Southeastern Conference.
The SEC office put out a news release on Friday confirming the board of regents at both schools had voted to accept invitations to the league. The schools are slated to join the conference in 2025.
“This is an important moment for the long-term future of the Southeastern Conference and our member universities,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in the release. “Oklahoma and Texas are outstanding academic institutions with two strong athletics programs, which will add to the SEC’s national prominence.”
Following the conference office’s confirmation of the news, South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner put out a statement of his own on the matter.
The State previously reached out for comment from Tanner and the USC athletic department regarding potential realignment last week, but was told the university would decline to comment at that time.
“The addition of the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma into the Southeastern Conference will excite Gamecock student-athletes, coaches, and fans,” Tanner said in his statement. “Thirty years ago, the University of South Carolina accepted an invitation to join the SEC. Each day since, the young men and women who have represented our program have benefited from the conference’s mission. The SEC continues to be positioned well for athletic and academic success, and we are proud to be part of such a great conference that enriches the experiences of our student-athletes.”
South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer — who spent three years as an assistant at Oklahoma prior to his hiring in Columbia — had also been tight lipped on the matter until Thursday.
Beamer was asked about the potential additions of Oklahoma and Texas on Monday during a booster event in Columbia, but he largely avoided the question and played it off as hypothetical.
Thursday, though, he addressed the changes following the first annual “Birdies with Beamer” media golf outing at Woodcreek Club.
“We don’t have to go play Texas and Oklahoma,” Beamer said. “... We get to go play Oklahoma. We get to go play Texas. I mean, if you come play in the SEC, you’re going to play against the best. If you don’t want to play against the best, then you need to go play somewhere else. That’s just the way it always has been and the way it always will be in this league.”
Beamer added there’s value on the recruiting trail for South Carolina football in being able to add blue blood programs like Texas and Oklahoma to a league that has won 11 of the past 15 national championships.
“We tell recruits all the time, ‘You want to play against the best across the country? Other than the NFL, it’s the SEC,’ “ Beamer said. “And that shows itself every single year in the NFL Draft. That shows itself with the passion of the fans and talent that you see on the field each and every Saturday.”
“When you’ve got two premier programs across college football in Texas and Oklahoma doing everything they can to try and join the SEC,” he continued, “that’s like the ultimate mic drop with recruits in the office.”