UH officially enters Big 12 Conference

Houston will revive rivalries with in-state schools such as TCU, Baylor and Texas in its debut season in the Big 12. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

When the clock struck midnight Friday night, the wait was finally over. The University of Houston officially became a member of the Big 12 Conference on July 1, 2023.

After the death of the Southwestern Conference almost 30 years ago and the subsequent lack of invitation into the Big 12, UH was cast down to the second rung of college.

Now, the Cougars are finally where they feel they belong.

“From the day I came to the University of Houston 15 and a half years ago, all I’ve heard is ‘Those were the days when we were part of the Southwestern Conference,'” said UH chancellor Renu Khator during the school’s midnight livestream. “It’s just exciting that we’re back, and have an opportunity again to show who we are and play on the national stage.”

Houston was formally invited into the Big 12 in the fall of 2021, shortly after the announcement of the departure of Texas and Oklahoma from the conference.

Houston has spent the previous 10 years as a member of the American Athletic Conference, where it won 41 conference titles and six individual national titles. Joining UH in the Big 12 are fellow former AAC schools Central Florida and Cincinnati as well as the formerly independent BYU.

“Now we have this opportunity to play amongst the best in every sport,” said men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson in a video message played during the stream. “And I think that’s going to lift everybody up.”

UH’s first action in Big 12 play will come on September 14, when the women’s soccer club takes on Texas Tech on the road. Two days later, the football team will face the TCU Horned Frogs in the school’s first-ever Big 12 home game.

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