Cincinnati, UCF, Houston to join the Big 12 in 2023 after reaching an agreement with the American Athletic Conference

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The University of Cincinnati, UCF and Houston will become members of the Power 5 conference in 2023 after the three schools reached an agreement with the American Athletic Conference on Friday to join the Big 12 in 2023.

Contrary to other cases where schools break up with other conferences, it seems that the American Athletic Conference and the three schools will end their relationships on good terms.

Terry Mehagir, UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics, speaks as UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright looks on during a press conference to announce the UCF’s joining the Big 12 conference.
(Ricardo Ramirez Bucida/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“I would like to thank UCF President Alexander Cartwright, Cincinnati President Neville Pinto and Houston President Renault Kator — as well as Tulane Chairman Michael Fitts, who chairs our board — for their efforts and leadership to reach a reasonable decision to exit the three schools from the conference,” AAC Commissioner Mike Arsko said. He said in a statement.

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“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.”

In September 2021, Big 12 announced that the three schools and BYU would be joining the conference, following news that Oklahoma and Texas would be leaving the conference for the SEC. BYU is also expected to join the Big 12 in 2023.

Houston Cougars' Taze Moore (4) reacts during a game against the Villanova Wildcats during the 2022 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Elite Eight on March 26, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas.

Houston Cougars’ Taze Moore (4) reacts during a game against the Villanova Wildcats during the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Elite Eight on March 26, 2022, in San Antonio, Texas.
(C.Morgan Engel/NCAA photos via Getty Images)

Cincinnati, which became the first quintet football team to reach the College Football League in 2021, will get a chance to showcase its talent on an even bigger stage.

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“Today is another milestone in our journey towards participating in the Big 12,” athletics director John Cunningham said, according to WLWT Cincinnati. “We welcome this fast schedule and are delighted that the majority of current student-athletes will be able to establish themselves at the ‘next level.’ It is imperative that the entire athletic department and the entire fan base embrace this challenge together.

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“As I said before, our goal is to compete for championships on the first day we get into the Big 12. Now that we have that date, it’s time to ensure we put ourselves at the head of the table.”

A Cincinnati Bearcats fan waves a Cincinnati Bearcats flag and Big 12 logos during a game against the Murray State Racers at Nippert Stadium on September 11, 2021 in Cincinnati.

A Cincinnati Bearcats fan waves a Cincinnati Bearcats flag and Big 12 logos during a game against the Murray State Racers at Nippert Stadium on September 11, 2021 in Cincinnati.
(Dylan Boyle/Getty Images)

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The world of college athletics still faces a change with reports on Friday that Oklahoma and Texas could join the Securities and Exchange Commission as soon as the 2024 season, according to 247 Sports.

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