Kansas Sen. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Defund the vaccine mandate Biden presses companies to get ahead of vaccine mandate MORE (R) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday to investigate sports network ESPN’s role in the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma’s move from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
In the letter, which was addressed to U.S. Attorney General Merrick GarlandMerrick GarlandTrustmark Bank to pay million 'redlining' fine The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Biden: Comment that DOJ should prosecute those who defy subpoenas 'not appropriate' MORE, Marshall cited reports that the sports network had recently acquired "100% of the television rights to all SEC games from CBS."
“I write today to ask that the DOJ investigate ESPN’s role in the potential destruction of the Big XII Conference and if any anti-competitive or illegal behavior occurred relating to manipulating the conference change or ESPN’s contractual television rights,” Marshall said.
The senator goes on to reference other news articles that "suggest that the Big XII has 'evidence that ESPN is manipulating all of this.'"
Marshall’s letter comes as the Big 12 issued a cease-and-desist order to ESPN last week, accusing them of violating their broadcasting rights with the conference and trying to “sway” members to another unnamed conference, according to Sports Illustrated.
Both Texas and Oklahoma announced in July that they will not plan to renew their broadcasting rights with the Big 12, reportedly accepting an offer to join rival SEC after the 2025 season, Sports Illustrated noted.
In response, ESPN denounced the claims from the Big 12 in a letter, saying, “We did nothing wrong.”
ESPN sent a letter to the Big 12 today in response to the cease and desist from the league.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 29, 2021
In short, it says “we did nothing wrong.” pic.twitter.com/EewMoevgy2
The senator also cited the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961, which does not allow television broadcasters to televise all league games due to a violation of anti-trust laws, according to the letter.
The Hill has reached out to ESPN for comment.