The Big 12 Conference has officially extended invitations to four universities after the eight remaining members voted unanimously to approve the move, the conference announced Friday.
BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston will all receive invitations to join the Big 12, ultimately growing the league to an eventual 12 teams after the slated departure of Oklahoma and Texas in 2025 to the SEC.
The Big 12 did not give an official joining date for their potential new members if they decide to accept their invitations.
The Big 12 has been working on a contingency plan after OU and Texas announced their plans for an SEC exodus in July. The move prompted strong reactions from both inside and outside the world of college athletics, as it seemed to blindside the Big 12 and its members.
That announcement put the wheels in motion for another potentially massive shift in conference allegiance across the country, prompting reactions from the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 as they saw the growing SEC as a threat.
In August, those three leagues announced an “historic” scheduling alliance. While alliance members stated they “want and need the Big 12 to do well,” the Big 12 was left out, and all three conferences ruled out expansion.
So, the Big 12 began to look at growth for the first time since 2016. On Aug. 27, the conference reportedly formed a four-person subcommittee to explore the prospect of expansion, leaving no stone unturned. ESPN’s Heather Dinich spoke to one source who stated “everything is on the table…our options are looking at many schools.”
Amid those reports, BYU was named as an early candidate.
While BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are just now receiving invitations to the Big 12, their names have been in the conversation since the league’s last expansion debate in 2016, along with several others. Ultimately, the league opted to stick to its current format of 10 members.