Three universities reach agreement with AAC, join Big 12 Conference
June 12, 2022
On Friday, June 10th, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Houston signed a deal with the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to leave the conference in 2023 and join the Big 12.
AAC statement about the deal
In a statement, the AAC said "America's Athletics Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced that The American has reached an agreement with UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston regarding the agency's departure from the American."
The league also stated that its members voted to have all three institutions' memberships terminated on July 1, 2023. According to Sam Khan Jr of The Athletic, the trio will pay an $18 million departure fee to the AAC in order to leave the conference.
Aresco also expressed his gratitude to the three universities, "I would like to thank UCF president Alexander Cartwright, Cincinnati President Neville Pinto, and Houston President Renu Khator. Not to forget Tulane President Michael Fitts on the Board of Directors for his efforts and leadership in reaching the resolution.”
He explained that the three institutions had enjoyed tremendous success under the banner of the American Athletics Conference. They also have an important role in bringing the conference to be better athletically and academically.
The Big 12 and the joining of BYU
Initially, the conference was formed in 1996 with a mix of the best of the Southwestern Conference and the Big 8 to form the top league in the country. Since then, the original 5 members have left the league.
The Big 12 has operated with 10 member institutions since 2012. Currently, with the merger of the three institutions above, the Big 12 will return to the same 12 member schools.
Previously, the Big 12 announced three schools in September 2021, with BYU expected to join. This comes on the heels of news that Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the league for the SEC, demonstrating the Big 12's desire to grow by accepting conference membership.
Since 2011, BYU has featured as FBS's independent football program and its college basketball team is the 18th winning program in 30 NCAA Tournaments. However, BYU has never been a member of a power conference in the history of athletics.
According to a source, the Conference is expected to retain its Strength Conference label. In fact, even if the Big 12 Autonomous Five did not generate developments, their status would be secure.
Athletes can show their talents on a bigger stage
The combination of the three institutions into the Big 12 indicates the rise of possibilities for athletes to showcase their abilities on a larger scale. This is undoubtedly something that every student-athlete desires.
"Today is another milestone in our journey towards participation in the Top 12," said Cincinnati athletics director John Cunningham.
Through his statement, Cunningham appeared to be quite pleased about this fairly fast integration timeline. He was satisfied that the majority of his student-athletes were able to prove themselves at the 'next level'.
Cunningham also said that the goal of this integration is to compete in the championship. "Right now we have that date and are making sure we take a position at the top of the table," he concluded.