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Big 12 officially accepts BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UCF

Aug 31, 2019; Waco, TX, USA; A view of the Baylor Bears logo and the Big 12 conference logo on an end zone pylon during the game between the Baylor Bears and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 31, 2019; Waco, TX, USA; A view of the Baylor Bears logo and the Big 12 conference logo on an end zone pylon during the game between the Baylor Bears and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 unanimously approved the addition of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF in a vote of conference presidents and chancellors on Friday.

The vote involved eight of the 10 schools currently in the conference. Texas and Oklahoma, which have been accepted to join the Southeastern Conference by July 1, 2025, did not participate.

Each school is expected to formally vote to accept the offer later Friday.

BYU already issued a statement saying it would join the Big 12 in the 2023-24 season. University president Kevin J. Worthen called Friday “a historic day for BYU Athletics — and for the entire university,” and he said joining the Big 12 will allow student-athletes “to compete at the highest level.”

Representatives from existing Big 12-member schools were quick to welcome the new schools into the fold.

“The Big 12 Conference has been among the best football leagues in the country for the past 25 years,” Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy said. “The addition of these four programs will allow us to introduce our brand of football to fans in new locations. I welcome the new conference members and look forward to competing against them while maintaining competition with our longstanding league members. We have the best of both worlds.”

While BYU is leaving the West Coast Conference — the Cougars are an independent in football — the American Athletic Conference will have three fewer members. Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are the top football schools in the conference.

Under AAC bylaws, the schools must give a 27-month notice and pay a $10 million buyout. If they are to join BYU in the conference in 2023, the schools and the league will have to negotiate.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco issued a statement Friday that said it was logical the Big 12 would want to snap up Cincinnati, Houston and UCF and vowed the move won’t diminish his conference.

“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,” he said. “Our conference was targeted for exceeding expectations in a system that wasn’t designed to accommodate our success.”

He continued: “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.”

The departure of the three schools will leave the AAC with eight full members. The Big 12 could, for a time, have 14 members if all four additions come on board before Oklahoma and Texas shift to the SEC.

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–Field Level Media