Oklahoma’s move to the SEC was 10 years in the making

Oklahoma is finally, officially, in the SEC.

Monday afternoon, in the middle of a day-long celebration of the Sooners switching conferences, Oklahoma president Joseph Harroz Jr., athletic director Joe Castiglione and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey held a press conference at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to herald the move.

Here are some takeaways from the press conference:

Oklahoma’s SEC move has been nearly a decade in the making

Castiglione and Sankey said the move had been in the works for around a decade — well before the official word of the move bubbled out in July 2021.

‘The move for us was thoughtful and strategic,’ Harroz said.

Sankey said the genesis for the move came in October 2015 when he presented an analysis to the SEC’s presidents and chancellors of the future of college athletics.

The big turn came in the spring of 2021, when Oklahoma and Texas made a unified pitch to the SEC about joining the conference.

Castiglione said it was important to be forward-thinking across the board, especially with the rapid changes taking place in college athletics.

‘Understanding some way, shape or form those things that we saw eight, 10 years ago are happening,’ Castiglione said.

Greg Sankey has Oklahoma ties

Sankey grew up in upstate New York.

But Sankey made his first trip to Oklahoma in 1969 when he was 5, visiting his grandfather in the state.

‘My grandfather was born and raised in Chouteau, Oklahoma,’ Sankey said. ‘This state has always been a part of our family’s life. He was a Yankees fan not because of New York but because of (Oklahoma native) Mickey Mantle.’

Joseph Harroz: Move to SEC was about two goals

Harroz said the driving factors of the move came down to two primary goals.

‘Two conclusions that we reached that governed all of it — The University of Oklahoma must be in a place to win championships in all the sports,’ he said. ‘Second is we wanted to remain among the handful of athletic departments in the country that weren’t subsidized.’

Harroz said that without the move, Oklahoma’s athletic department would’ve needed subsidies beginning as quickly as 2027 or 2028.

Greg Sankey declines to discuss ‘Horns Down’

It became an annual summer point of discussion in the Big 12 — how would the ‘Horns Down’ hand signal be handled by football officials.

Sankey was asked about it Monday but declined to say how Oklahoma’s unofficial hand signal would be handled, particularly in the Red River Rivalry on Oct. 12 in Dallas.

‘I’m not going to talk about football penalties on July 1,’ Sankey said with a smile. ‘I’ll let my football coordinator deal with that.’

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