Big 12 votes to invite Houston, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati to conference

The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors voted Friday to extend conference membership invitations to the University of Houston, Brigham Young University, the University of Central Florida and the University of Cincinnati.

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The move comes less than two months after the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin decided to leave the Big 12. Officials with the Southeastern Conference have invited the teams to join for the 2025-26 season.

>> Related: SEC invites Oklahoma, Texas to join conference in 2025

In a statement, Big 12 officials said Friday’s vote “was approved unanimously by the eight continuing members,” Baylor University, Iowa State University, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas Christian University, Texas Tech University and West Virginia University.

In Twitter posts and news releases, officials with Houston, BYU, and Cincinnati confirmed they were accepting the invitations. Officials with UCF said the school’s Board of Trustees planned to meet Friday afternoon to discuss conference membership.

>> On WFTV.com: UCF invited to join Big 12 Conference

Houston officials said the university expected to begin playing in the conference as soon as the fall of 2023.

“Joining the Big 12 Conference is a historic step in our institutional journey and signifies the tremendous growth and success attained academically and athletically over the last decade,” university President Renu Khator said in a statement.

“Our expectations for our University remain high, our aspirations continue to be bold, and we embrace this new opportunity to compete at the highest levels in all we do.”

Kevin Worthen, president of BYU, called Friday “a historic day for BYU Athletics -- and for the entire university.” School officials said they would begin participating in the Big 12 Conference for all sports but equestrian, rowing, wrestling and men’s volleyball beginning in the 2023-24 season.

“The BYU mission statement indicates that BYU is a place where ‘a commitment to excellence is expected,’” Worthen said. “Membership in the Big 12 gives us the opportunity to reinforce that commitment for student-athletes, allowing them to compete at the highest level both on and off the field.”

Cincinnati celebrated the invitation in a tweet. University officials said the school planned to join the Big 12 Conference by no later than July 1, 2024.

After identifying it primary expansion targets last week, the Big 12 moved quickly to make it happen. The four schools had also been vetted by the league in 2016 when it considered expansion then before staying at 10 teams.

>> Related: Report: Big 12 looking to add UCF, Cincinnati, BYU, Houston

The Big 12 Conference could temporarily expand to 14 teams if Houston, BYU, UCF and Cincinnati join before Oklahoma and Texas leave in 2025, ESPN reported.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.