Saturday, August 20, 2022

Big 12 extends conference membership to BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF; programs to accept invitations Friday

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The Big 12 announced Friday morning that it voted to expand its league membership for the first time since 2012. As expected, the Big 12 rubber stamped four membership invitations, extending them to BYUCincinnatiHouston and UCF.

Extending an invitation required a supermajority of the remaining eight Big 12 athletic directors. However, the Big 12 notes that the vote to add these new members was unanimous. 

All four universities are expected to officially accept the invitations one by one Friday. Press conferences with the schools and the Big 12 are scheduled throughout the afternoon (all times Eastern): Houston at noon, BYU at 12:30 p.m., UCF at 3:45 p.m. and Cincinnati at 4:30 p.m.

This round of Big 12 expansion comes on the heels of Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference to join the SEC as member institutions. The Longhorns and Sooners will either have to wait until the Big 12’s grant of rights expires after the 2024-25 school year or pay fines that could reach $80 million. 

Cincinnati, Houston and UCF will be leaving the American Athletic Conference to join the Big 12. Those schools will be required to pay a $10 million exit fee. League rules state that 27 months of advance notice are required for exiting the AAC; it is expected that all three schools and BYU will begin playing all their sports in the Big 12 at the start of the 2023-24 season. BYU, as an independent, could move to the Big 12 whenever it chooses; however, the Cougars announced Friday that they will wait until that season.

Should all four teams join the Big 12 in 2023, that group would overlap with the final two years Texas and Oklahoma are in the league. That could give the Big 12, temporarily, a 14-team league unless the Longhorns and Sooners are either offered a way out early or buy their way out of their contract.

Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt recently claimed this may only be the first round of realignment as part of a larger expansion of the Big 12.

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