Report: UCF, BYU, Cincinnati, Houston Plan to Submit Applications to Join Big 12

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IISeptember 3, 2021

CORRECTS DATELINE TO ARLINGTON, TEXAS, NOT DALLAS AS ORIGINALLY SENT - Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks during NCAA college football Big 12 media days Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero

UCF, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston are all planning to submit applications to join the Big 12, which is looking to regroup after news emerged that Oklahoma and Texas plan to join the SEC.

Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde and Ross Dellenger broke the news Friday, and ESPN's Adam Rittenberg and Heather Dinich confirmed it as well.

Sports Illustrated reported that the applications are expected to be in next week, and approval could happen as soon as Sept. 10, when the Big 12 presidents are scheduled to meet.

As for how the league structure might work, SI wrote the following:

In this scenario, the four teams will join the league by 2023 or, at the very latest, 2024, and may even compete alongside Oklahoma and Texas before those two powerhouses depart for the SEC, making for a couple of awkward seasons in a 14-team Big 12.
The timeline is fluid and has been described as optimistic, but not unrealistic. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has even gone on site visits, most recently taking a trip to meet with Houston officials on Thursday.

ESPN also noted that the potential expansion is moving very quickly.

"Things are moving very quickly," a source told ESPN Friday. "There's obvious momentum to get votes to the board."

The ESPN duo previously reported Thursday that the four aforementioned schools had informally contacted the Big 12 about joining.

The Big 12 has found itself in a bind after news emerged of Oklahoma and Texas' impending departures, but the conference was also left out of the newly formed alliance between the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC.

The SEC will clearly stand alone as the most powerful conference in college sports bar none when Oklahoma and Texas join, although the league has to contend with the alliance, which was formed in response to the SEC's power move.

That left the Big 12 as the lone Power Five conference that hadn't increased its power in some way. The natural move was to add schools, which appears to be moving at warp speed to keep up with the rest of the college sports landscape.

As for when those schools will join, American Athletic Conference members UCF, Houston and Cincinnati's most "realistic timeline" is 2024, per ESPN.

"American Athletic Conference bylaws require schools to give a 27-month notice before they leave and pay a $10 million buyout fee. In that scenario, joining by the 2023 season would be a long shot, but an earlier exit and higher buyout could be negotiated. The most realistic timeline, sources said, is 2024."

Sources told ESPN that those three schools have not told the AAC of their intentions.

BYU is an FBS independent but participates in the West Coast Conference for other sports. SI noted that the school must give the league advance notice if its intends to leave.