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Saturday, December 9, 2023


UH mulls Big 12 options

Conference landscapes have altered, but UH is not headed anywhere just yet.

Realignment has been the topic of discussion for Cougar fans since Big 12 schools University of Nebraska and University of Colorado made plans to migrate to other conferences.

Athletic Director Mack Rhoades said on Friday that he was comfortable staying in Conference USA, but that he would actively pursue opportunities to upgrade.

“We are in a conference right now and we certainly have great loyalty to that conference and the other 11 institutions,” Rhoades said.

“But we are also going to look in our best interest, and if there is an opportunity out there, we are going to be aggressive with it.”

Other schools have decided to pull the cord with existing partnerships to enter into better conferences, including Boise State, who is leaving the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West Conference.

When Colorado and Nebraska jumped ship from the Big 12 it was expected to create a ripple effect, but the chaos appears to be over. After speculation, University of Texas declined the Pac-10’s offer.

Big 12 officials announced yesterday they will stand pat with their current number of teams. For those who are counting, that is 10 teams in the Big 12, 11 teams in the Pac-10 with Colorado, and now, including Nebraska, 12 teams in the Big Ten, which has had 11 teams since 1990.

The new deal grants Texas, Texas A&M, and University of Oklahoma at least $20 million yearly. This leaves the other seven members with an arrangement that guarantees them $14 to $17 million each, nearly doubling their existing contracts.

With plans revealed last week that UH will build a new football stadium and renovate Hofheinz Pavilion, Rhoades said that it puts UH athletics in the right direction.

“I do not think you box yourself into a corner,” Rhoades said. “I think that all of those opportunities – Pac-10, Big Ten and SEC are all great.  But that includes Conference-USA doing something and proving its stance just like every other conference is trying to do.  We are again focused on what we can control and it’s making us better.”

UH head football coach Kevin Sumlin believes that the new stadium will put UH in a position that could have an impact on conference selection if the opportunity arises.

“In the next month who knows what will happen,” Sumlin said.

“Two weeks ago if somebody said that Colorado was going to the Pac-10 they would have called you crazy.  That is the way it is and anything can happen.”

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