CGN Roundtable: On Oklahoma and the SEC

With the news that Oklahoma and Texas officially accepted the Southeastern Conference’s invitation to join in 2025, there are a LOT of questions about logistics, from financials to what it means for non-football sports. But all we care about is how it affects gymnastics. So that’s exactly what we’re discussing in this week’s roundtable.

What do you think about Oklahoma joining SEC gym? Let us know in the comments or on social media!

What are your initial thoughts about the potential for Oklahoma to join SEC gym?

Elizabeth: I’m really excited because I think it’ll create even more parity in the conference. Plus, Oklahoma won’t have it so easy anymore. I’m also mildly worried about the remaining three Big 12 teams. And most importantly, NO MORE FOX SPORTS FOR OKLAHOMA BROADCASTS! That’s the biggest win, tbh.

Emily M: All I could think about initially is SEE YOU NEVER, FSOK. I do think a lot of talk about score inflation is a little overblown, but I worry about it here a touch. I also just don’t see how the Big 12 will carry on. I mean, as it is, Denver is already an associate member, so that leaves just two full gymnastics members. Big yikes.

Tavia: I have mixed emotions. I’m glad we’ll actually get to see Oklahoma compete against the best every week. Oklahoma competitions will finally be accessible to watch, so that’s exciting. However, I wonder how the Big 12 will handle only having three teams. Will they still stay together as a conference or will individual teams disperse into other conferences? 

Jenna: I strongly dislike this move for many non-gymnastics reasons, but since we’re discussing gymnastics…never mind, I still hate it! I fear this will be the end of Big 12 gymnastics, as it’s likely not worth having a conference with only three teams, especially when one of them isn’t a full conference member. I have a strong feeling WVU will either move to the ACC in all sports or compete in the EAGL for gym while the MRGC will welcome Denver back with open arms. But that leaves Iowa State with nowhere to go, which makes me fear for the future of that program.

Claire: I’m with Jenna on all points. Aside from being the death knell for Big 12 gym, it’s potentially the beginning of a pointless trend: If teams start flocking to a few major conferences, those conferences will eventually hit critical mass and have to split up again. 

Ryan: I think the potential for exciting meets in the SEC will go through the roof. Every edition of Friday Night Heights already features great matchups, but adding Oklahoma to the mix will make for incredible meets we previously got as non-conference matchups only a few times per season. I’m excited for Oklahoma to get improved media exposure as well. It’s deserved it for a long time!

Tara: I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I fear the end of Big 12 gymnastics with only two full member schools and an associate member sponsoring gymnastics. Like Claire, I also worry about the SEC getting bigger than it can handle. On the other hand, there’s a lot to like from an Oklahoma perspective. The SEC just got that much more interesting with the addition of one of the top teams in the country. I also love the potential for Oklahoma gymnastics to be more accessible to the common fan: Hello, SEC Network and goodbye, Fox Sports Oklahoma!

How do you think the conference championships will be restructured?

Elizabeth: I have a bad feeling the afternoon session will just be five teams now with the night session being the top four.

Emily M: I agree with Elizabeth, and I hate it.

Tavia: The whole thing is going to be ruined. I also have a tendency to believe that the conference will choose to keep the top four in the evening session because that’s more dramatic. The afternoon session will likely fall into even more oblivion.

Jenna: Agreed with the others: The afternoon session will go to five teams with a bye. Byes are awful, but I don’t hate it as much as the other editors since it could be worse (looking at you, Big Ten!).

Ryan: I echo what my fellow editors have said here. Now that byes are a thing of the past in NCAA regionals, the thought of them coming to a meet as exciting as the SEC championship makes my stomach turn.

Claire: Nine is arguably the worst small number to make any sort of tournament play out of because there’s simply no efficient way to do it. I’m betting we’ll see the bottom five in the afternoon session and top four in the evening session. I’m just praying we don’t end up with a morning, afternoon AND evening session of three. 

Tara: Yeah…I’m going to have to echo my fellow editors here. I see them wanting to keep the night session as a quad meet for excitement/drama/TV purposes and five teams in the afternoon session with byes. 

How about how you *want* the conference championships to be restructured?

Elizabeth: I want the regular season to mean something and for the conference championships to only be the top four teams and if you’re not in the top four, you don’t get to compete for the title. For the purposes of NQS, those remaining five teams can have another meet to get one last score for regionals if they want or something. I’m guessing no team will go for that plan, though, so my other suggestion is to turn SECs into a two day competition. The top team in the conference gets a bye to day two while the other eight have to compete on day one to qualify for finals where the top three from day one compete for the conference championship with the top seed.

Emily M: Give me a tournament gosh darnit! Have a day or two of prelims and the top four teams from prelims qualify to a final. That’s the big dream. Alternatively, I’d like to see another member add gym so at least the numbers are even.

Tavia: There are honestly too many teams in the conference to have a regular conference championship meet at this point. I think it would be ideal just to have the top four teams from the regular season compete for the conference championship. This would make the regular season more dramatic and high stakes. 

Jenna: I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about this; I’m cool with the afternoon session of five teams and evening session of four teams.

Claire: The only fair thing from both a team and individual standpoint is an actual two-day tournament with a play-in round. 

Ryan: I agree that the SEC championship (and the Big 10 championship, which has this problem too) should be a single four-team meet. The afternoon sessions can be exciting, but they’re so often treated as throw-away competitions because the champion is expected to come from the evening session. I like Elizabeth’s idea of having the top four teams, either by NQS or SEC win-loss record, qualify for the final. A tourney would be really exciting though!

Tara: Give me a play-in tournament based on regular season performance, please and thank you. I don’t even care if it goes down to eight or four teams, just get the conference championships down to a point where a normal meet can take place without awkward byes. 

What about the Big 12? What do you think it will look like in 2025 (aka the 2026 gymnastics season)?

Elizabeth: A LOT can change in the next four seasons before Oklahoma joins the SEC for 2026, which means there’s plenty of time for the other teams to make plans. There’s talk that the remaining Big 12 teams might join the AAC, which includes Temple. I could see Iowa State and West Virginia making an AAC conference with Temple (plus maybe an additional AAC school sponsoring gym??). Then Denver can rejoin the MRGC or join the MPSF. I know that messes up the MRGC’s perfect four-team conference, but we all have to make sacrifices. Otherwise, maybe something could be done with the EAGL with N.C. State, North Carolina and Pittsburgh leaving for the start of ACC gymnastics in 2025. Geographically it’s tough for Denver no matter.

Emily M: Ugh. Iowa State and West Virginia are, thankfully, very established programs. I don’t think we’ll simply lose gymnastics at either. Since Denver is already an associate member, I could see it hopping back to the MRGC. If the other two don’t end up in the AAC as Elizabeth outlined, I could see them joining conferences as associate members as well (maybe West Virginia in the EAGL and Iowa State in the Big Ten?).

Tavia:  I think that the Big 12 will no longer sponsor gymnastics in 2025. The three remaining teams will have to enter other conferences. In my dream world, more teams will start sponsoring college gymnastics, and the Big 12 will be revived. That seems unrealistic at this point though. 

Jenna: I touched on the individual school scenarios in my answer to the first question, but it’ll be gone, no doubt about it.

Claire: There won’t be Big 12 gymnastics. West Virginia has several realistic options, so I’m not too worried for it. I’d actually like to see MRGC absorb both Denver and Iowa State, but that’s probably wishful thinking. 

Ryan: I definitely don’t think the Big 12 will go on, or that it should go on with only three teams. Elizabeth and Emily have taken the realistic approach, so I’ll add my dream that a few more schools will add gymnastics to balance out the numbers. Come on Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas State and Texas Tech! We believe in you!

Tara: I can’t see Big 12 gymnastics continuing to exist unless at least one conference member adds a gymnastics teams. I can see Denver defecting back to the MRGC—it only seems natural. West Virginia seems like it could fit in well with the EAGL, and Iowa State in the Big 10 maybe?

What one other SEC school do you want to add gymnastics to bring the field back to an even number of teams?

Elizabeth: I want South Carolina to start a gymnastics team for a couple reasons: 1. The instant rivalry with Clemson and both being new teams would be fantastic. 2. They would be the Gymcocks. Plus, crimson/maroon and black are always good colors for leos.

Emily M: Presumably Oklahoma is joining the West Division, which means to balance it we’d need a school in the East. Vanderbilt! Imagine those black and gold leos. Plus, you know there’d be some wild Shawn Johnson East family social content around the hoopla.

Tavia: I would like to see gymnastics at Mississippi State! I want to see more states add college gymnastics. Maybe in the future, the Ole Miss and Mississippi State rivalry could make its way to gymnastics! That would be exciting. 

Jenna: Texas, obviously! I doubt that’s going to happen though, so let’s go with Texas A&M because we need another program in that state.

Claire: Texas A&M! It’s already got the Kathy Johnson Clarke seal of approval. 

Ryan: I would have to say Texas A&M (or Texas once it joins) because we’ve discussed at length how it’s criminal that the state doesn’t have a Division I team. I’d also like Ole Miss purely because it has red, white and blue as its school colors, and Arizona has been able to make some beautiful leos with those.

Tara: Hmm, it’s hard to pick just one! I think I’m going to go with Vanderbilt for reasons already disclosed by Emily, but also because of its academic reputation. 

What questions do you still have about this potential mix up (for gym)—besides anything you already brought up?

Elizabeth: I mean, so many… Will the teams still be required to compete against every other team once during the season for regular season title purposes? How will or will Oklahoma’s program change once it has SEC backing and funding? What will scoring look like since both top SEC teams and Oklahoma are known for home scoring and overscoring?

Emily M: I’m so curious about the schedule. The SEC’s current system is so clean. I mean each team having seven duals against each other team and two four-team conference sessions? It doesn’t get prettier than that. Is the conference going to eat up yet another weekend with one more required dual? I hope not because those juicy out-of-conference meets are so fun. I also hope a new rivalry emerges, but with whom? OU gymnastics doesn’t really have one right now, since the school’s traditional rivals don’t have gym (Texas and Oklahoma State). 

Tavia: Will Oklahoma gymnastics be helped or hurt by this decision to join the SEC? Will the addition of Texas to the conference give UT the incentive to bring the rivalry to gymnastics as well or will OU have to find another rivalry within the SEC? I feel like the scoring is about to get even more out of hand than it already is. I can’t wait to see it.

Jenna: How will this affect recruiting, particularly for the remaining Big 12 schools? Oklahoma will surely do just fine in recruiting after this move, but the other three teams may suddenly not seem as desirable of a destination, depending on which conference(s) they end up in.

Claire: Does this mean the Sooners’ home meets will be broadcast by SECN? 

Ryan: I’m most interested in how this move will affect recruiting. Strength of schedule and media exposure are some of the few areas where Oklahoma has lagged behind, but joining the SEC will change that. Maybe some top recruits who wouldn’t have considered Oklahoma before will give it a second look.

Tara: I know, I know, we’re celebrating the end of Fox Sports Oklahoma, but I want confirmation that SECN will take over broadcasting Oklahoma meets. What does it mean for the rest of the Big 12? Will we see changes in other major conferences as well? What will the schedule look like? Will we see any scoring changes as a result of the move?

READ THIS NEXT: BREAKING: Oklahoma to Join SEC Starting With 2026 Season

Article by Elizabeth Grimsley, Emily Minehart, Tavia Smith, Jenna King, Claire Billman, Ryan Wichtendahl, Tara Graeve

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  1. This is good for all. Plus if they could do 4 super conference it would only help sports like gymnastics. The SEC can showcase this even more than it already does on SEC network and ESPN. If West Virginia doesn’t find a conference couldn’t they just join SEC in gymnastic? I would prefer another school add a team and that should be A&M. Either way adding Oklahoma women to all sports in the SEC will be great!

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