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Big 12 Officially Adds Houston

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In a Zoom press conference, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, along with University of Houston president Renu Khator, Texas Tech president Lawrence Schovanec, Houston Rockets owner and businessman Tilman Fertitta, and Houston vice president for athletics Chris Pezman held the school’s Big 12 introductory press conference.

Bowlsby began by clarifying the timeline for expansion, a question that has been rather ambiguous recently. The 2025 end date, when Oklahoma and Texas are set to leave in lieu of the SEC, will mark the day when the Big 12 actually peels down to 12 teams. Prior to that point, Bowlsby confirmed that BYU will join the Big 12 in 2023. Houston, UCF, and Cincinnati will join no later than “July 1, 2024”. He said that all four teams intend to honor obligations to the American Athletic Conference and the West Coast Conference prior to leaving.

“With Texas and OU moving to the SEC, it caused a renewed consideration of the options that are available,” Bowlsby said. “The more our group became committed to one another and moving forward with the group of eight, the more they began to believe adding additional members made good sense.”

He said that he’s excited to introduce these four teams to the rest of the remaining Big 12, and also doesn’t explicitly deny a potential post-2025 Big 12 expansion.

“We’re living in a very fast-changing athletic environment, and we will be at 14 [teams] for a while,” he said. “We’ll drop back to 12, and as there are targets of opportunity or as there are situations that dictate that we change composition, we’ll prepare to do those things.”

The Big 12 presidents and chancellors voted on Friday to bring Houston, Cincinnati, BYU, and UCF into the fold in what the conference says was “approved unanimously” by the big eight members.

Of adding Houston’s consistently-ranked men’s basketball program to the Big 12 national representation, Bowlsby said, “We’ll arguably be the best basketball conference in the country.”

Bowlsby’s hope is to cultivate this new Big 12 era into one which finds national championships in non-revenue buildings sports at the same speed that sports like football and men’s basketball traditionally have. For example, Houston’s golf team is one of the most successful college athletic teams in history. Houston men’s team golfers have won 16 team national championships, eight individual national championships, and 20 conference championships in the AAC days.

 

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