‘Big Day for the Big 12’: College Athletic Conference Adds 4 New Teams

BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston join the athletic conference

BYU Big 12
Dax Milne #5 of the BYU Cougars celebrates after a receiving touchdown in the first half against the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium on Oct. 16, 2020. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

The Big 12 athletic conference officially added four new teams to its association Friday: BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston.

“It’s July 1. Big day for the Big 12, the conference, our fans,” Big 12 commissioner Brett Yorkmark said in a video released on the conference’s Twitter page Saturday.” “Welcome UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, BYU. We are so thrilled to have you in the conference. We’ve waited a long time for this moment. Can’t wait to be on campus this fall. Welcome, welcome, welcome. Glad to have you in the Big 12.”

The move has been in the works for years, following Oklahoma and Texas’ decision to eventually leave the Big 12 in favor of the Southeastern Conference. The Big 12 will operate with 14 teams for the 2023-24 season, with Oklahoma and Texas set to exit at its conclusion — a year earlier than the teams originally intended. 

Cincinnati, Central Florida, and Houston come from the American Athletic Conference while BYU has been an independent team since 2011.

Reports of continued expansion of the Big 12 have been circulating, with powerhouse Gonzaga being one of Yorkmark’s primary targets, according to CBS Sports.

ESPN currently has three Big 12 teams in its preseason college football top-25 rankings, with the Texas Longhorns sitting in the highest spot at 10th, ahead of TCU (16th) and Kansas State (18th). 

In total, 14 programs will shift conferences for the start of 2023-24 season, with more notable shifts like UCLA and USC’s move to the Big 10, along with the Texas and Oklahoma shifts to the SEC, coming the following season.