Although in the works for a while now, Friday marked the official announcement that the Big 12 will welcome Cincinnati, Houston, and Central Florida (UCF) into the conference on July 1st of 2023.
All three universities had been competing in the American Athletic Conference and will have one more football and basketball season (among other sports) in that conference before making the transition next summer.
The original rumors were that the three schools would remain in the AAC until 2025; however, a deal was announced today that enables the schools to change conferences earlier. In order for this to happen, each school had to agree to an $18-million buyout, paid over the next 14 years.
The original buyout had been $10 million paid out over four years. That original buyout remains, but the additional $8 million that each team agreed to for the early departure will then need to be paid out over the following 12 years.
The additional money shouldn’t be too much of a concern for the schools given the financial benefit of joining the Big 12. According to financial records from the 2020-2021 school year, all AAC schools received an average distribution of 36.1 million per institution, while Big 12 schools received an average of $39 million that same year.
However, the Big 12 is in a time of transition with Texas and Oklahoma, its two biggest draws, eventually leaving to join the SEC.
However, Navigate, a Sports media research firm, still speculates that each Big 12 school will receive $41.8 million in 2023 and $43.1 million in 2024. A lot will depend on the Big 12 negotiating a new TV deal, but the ability to earn more money is certainly apparent for these three universities.
Additionally, in our new NIL world, playing in a more renowned conference with more money coming in and more exposure will also allow these schools to offer more sponsorship opportunities to recruits and, hopefully, improve their recruiting classes across all sports.
With Texas and Oklahoma not set to leave for the SEC until 2024 at the earliest, the Big 12 will likely be a 14-team conference for at least one year.
The AAC will also expand to 15 total schools after announcing that they would replace their departing universities by adding six new schools: Florida Atlantic University, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, University of North Texas, University of Texas at San Antonio, Rice University and University of Alabama at Birmingham.
All of those schools will join sometime before the end of 2024.
What comes after that is anybody’s guess.
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