IRVING, Texas, Sept. 10, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Big 12 Conference announced today the addition of Brigham Young University to its existing member institutions, starting in the 2023-24 athletic season.
Also joining the Big 12 will be Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston, said a news release from BYU.
“This is a historic day for BYU Athletics — and for the entire university,” said Kevin J. Worthen, BYU president. “The BYU mission statement indicates that BYU is a place where ‘a commitment to excellence is expected.’ We strive to meet that requirement in all we do, including our core academic enterprise. Membership in the Big 12 gives us the opportunity to reinforce that commitment for student-athletes, allowing them to compete at the highest level both on and off the field.”
The Cougars will participate in every sport sponsored by the Big 12 except equestrian, rowing and wrestling. The Big 12 sponsors every sport the Cougars compete in, except men’s volleyball. All sports will begin Big 12 schedules in the 2023-24 athletic season, except for men’s volleyball, which will continue to compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
“We have said all along that the decisions about where we play, who we play and what conference we compete in are about the student-athletes first and how we can help them achieve excellence,” said Tom Holmoe, BYU director of athletics. “Competing on the Big 12 stage provides more opportunities for our student-athletes. That’s what it’s all about.”
BYU is coming off of its best overall athletic season since 2001-02, finishing No. 17 in the 2020-21 Director’s Cup standings, the news release said. Contributing to that season was a national title from women’s cross country, a national runner-up for men’s volleyball, multiple NCAA titles for BYU distance runners, multiple West Coast Conference championships, NCAA basketball tournament appearances and a No. 11 finish in football, the news release said.
“College athletics is changing,” Holmoe said. “We’ve seen a rapid increase in the rate in which change is happening. We see it with conference realignment, we’ve seen it with the transfer portal, governance, and we’ve certainly seen it with NIL. We’re ready at BYU. Today’s news about joining the Big 12 is huge, but it’s not a resting point for us. This is just a new beginning with opportunities for bigger and better things to keep coming for BYU Athletics.”
The Big 12 will honor BYU’s existing Sunday-play policy, allowing the Cougars to schedule around Sunday competition, much like it has with the West Coast Conference and other conferences previously.
BYU will still compete as a member of the WCC for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. BYU has been a member of the conference since 2011.