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Cincinnati Puts Bid in to Join Big 12

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MORGANTOWN. W.Va. – The University of Cincinnati has officially sent in a bid to join the Big 12 Conference.

This comes days before the Big 12 Conference is set to formally add the Bearcats, as well as American Athletic Conference rivals UCF and Houston, and independent BYU. That goes to vote on Thursday or Friday.

It’s unclear what the timeline for these additions is and how much money is on the line. Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston needed to alert the AAC 27 months ahead of leaving and pay $10 million in order to depart. That sets the formal addition of these three schools at approximately December 2023. During the 2023-2025 years, it’s anticipated that the Big 12 will not only continue to play with Texas and Oklahoma, but will add Cincinnati, Central Florida, Houston, and BYU for a completed, interim, 14-team Big 12 Conference.

If, though, the schools decide to leave the AAC prematurely, the exit fee increases to a negotiated price between the school and the conference. That new price wouldn’t be difficult to pay for a program like the Bearcats, which finished construction on a $173 million combination update to Nippert Stadium and Fifth Third Arena in 2015. Nippert Stadium currently holds 40,000 fans, on par with the rest of the current Big 12 football stadiums, and $86 million of that $173 was spent revamped the stadium with new club suites, seating, and a larger press box.

The Big 12 affiliation would also allow the Bearcats to construct a permanent indoor training building like West Virginia’s Caperton Indoor Practice Facility.

At that time, Cincinnati was preparing to join the Big 12, but the conference decided against adding members in 2016. Cincinnati’s then-president Santa Ono announced that, if the offer with the Big 12 came to fruition, there would be additional money pumped into updates and renovations of Nippert. Obviously, the conversation is, once again, on the table, and this one could stick.

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