HOUSTON – As it celebrates its 75thanniversary of intercollegiate competition, the University of Houston has accepted an invitation to the Big 12 Conference and will begin play in the league as soon as the fall of 2023.
On Friday morning, Big 12 presidents voted to expand the league with four schools. In addition to the Cougars, BYU, Cincinnati and UCF accepted invitations to join the league. Those four newcomers will compete against current Big 12 members Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia.
UH President Renu Khator, UH System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman J. Fertitta and Vice President for Athletics Chris Pezman joined with Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Big 12 Board of Directors Chairman and Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec on the historic announcement Friday.
"Joining the Big 12 Conference is a historic step in our institutional journey and signifies the tremendous growth and success attained academically and athletically over the last decade," Khator said. "Our expectations for our University remain high, our aspirations continue to be bold, and we embrace this new opportunity to compete at the highest levels in all we do."
"The trajectory and growth of the University of Houston in recent years is undeniable. We are prepared for this moment, ready to compete and excited about what the Cougars will bring to the Big 12 Conference," Fertitta said. "This is a proud moment in UH history."
"Today is a monumental day in the trajectory of the University of Houston. Over the years there have been many moments and many people responsible for those moments that have paved the way to today's years-in-the-making announcement. As a Cougar myself, it is a privilege and honor to represent the many who have played a role in getting all of us to this special day," Pezman said. "On behalf of the University of Houston, I want to thank Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and the membership of the Big 12 for their belief in us and the value we can add to the Conference. Our collective past performances have led us to the opportunity we have today. We are humbled, honored, excited and ready to get to work. Together, what we can accomplish is limitless."
ATHLETICS & CONFERENCE HISTORY
Houston currently fields 17 sport programs with seven on the men's side (Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Football, Golf and Track & Field) and 10 on the women's side (Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Softball, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field and Volleyball).
During its Athletics history, Houston has recorded 158 conference championships with 17 NCAA team national championships and 68 NCAA individual national crowns.
This will be the seventh conference in which Houston Athletics competes during its award-winning history.
Houston began athletics competition as a member of the Lone Star Conference from 1946-47 to 1948-49 and played for the 1949-50 season in the Gulf Coast Conference.
After one season as an independent, the Cougars played for nine seasons in the Missouri Valley Conference (1951-52 to 1959-60) before spending 16 years as an independent again (1960-61 to 1975-76).
From there, the Cougars joined the Southwest Conference where it competed from 1976-77 through the 1995-96 campaign. Houston played for 17 years in Conference USA (1996-97 to 2012-13) and has competed as a member of the American Athletic Conference since 2013-14.