Cincinnati, Houston and UCF will officially join the Big 12 on July 1, 2023, after reaching an exit agreement with the American Athletic Conference, the league and schools announced Friday.
After Oklahoma and Texas announced their planned moves to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year, the Big 12 added Cincinnati, Houston, UCF and BU to its conference. The initial goal was to transfer the three schools from the American School to the Big 12 in time for the 2023-24 season. BYU is currently independent and will be joining the conference next year as well.
It will leave Oklahoma and Texas for the SEC in 2025, although that schedule may change. If they stay in the Big 12 until 2025, the Big 12 will be in 14 teams for two seasons.
According to the terms of reference, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF will each pay $18 million to exit the American. The schools had been paying $10 million in exit fees in four annual payments through 2024, and agreed to pay an additional $8 million — spread over 12 payments from 2025 to 2036 — to leave in 2023.
“I would like to thank UCF President Alexander Cartwright, Cincinnati President Neville Pinto and Houston President Renaud Kator — as well as Tulane Chairman Michael Fitts, our Chairman — for their efforts and leadership to reach a reasonable decision to leave the three schools conference,” U.S. Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement. “The three institutions have achieved tremendous success under the banner of the American Athletic Conference, and have been instrumental in taking the conference to great heights, both sportingly and academically. We wish them well and look forward to their participation in our conference in 2022-23.”
Cincinnati earned a spot in the college game last season, while the UCF and Houston earned six New Year’s bids as part of America.
The American is adding UAB, FAU, Charlotte, North Texas, Rice and UT-San Antonio from Conference USA. Schools are expected to start playing at next year’s convention, with Charlotte and U Tessa announcing on Friday that they will join the league on July 1, 2023.
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