Big 12 welcomes BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston; AAC responds to 3 schools leaving

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BYU quarterback Jaren Hall looks to hand off the ball against Arizona during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – With Oklahoma and Texas on the way out, the Big 12 announced Friday that it has invited BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston to join the Power Five conference and said it has not ruled out further expansion in the future.

The eight continuing members of the Big 12 unanimously approved applications from the four schools that sought membership.

The moves come six weeks after the SEC invited Texas and Oklahoma to join its league in time for the 2025-26 season.

In fact, BYU said all its sports will begin Big 12 schedules in the 2023-24 athletic season. BYU is an independent in football, but competes in the West Coast Conference for basketball and so-called Olympic sports like track and swimming.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said current American Athletic Conference teams UCF, Cincinnati and Houston will join no later than July 1, 2024, but said he “certainly wouldn’t foreclose” on the possibility of them coming in a year earlier with BYU.

The AAC requires members to give 27 months’ notice if they plan to leave the league, though there could be negotiations between the schools and that league to reduce that time.

Read the full AAC statement below:

Today’s news confirms what we have said all along regarding our status as a power conference. The irony that three of our schools are being asked to take the place of the two marquee schools which are leaving the Big 12 is not lost on us. Our conference was targeted for exceeding expectations in a system that wasn’t designed to accommodate our success.
 
All three of these institutions have enjoyed unprecedented success as members of The American, as have our remaining schools. Many of our schools have achieved competitive success similar to the departing schools. We have every expectation that the three departing schools will abide by the conference bylaws to ensure an amicable and orderly transition. We wish them continued success in the future.
 
Our remaining schools are unwavering in their commitment to competing and succeeding at the highest level and we will not allow external factors to put a ceiling on our potential. We remain unified and resolute and will consider all of our options as we move The American into our second decade and beyond.

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco

Wichita State became part of the AAC in 2017.

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