At the stroke of midnight Saturday, the University of Houston officially joined the Big 12 Conference. The 2023-24 season marks a new era in Houston Cougar Athletics.
On Sept. 9, 2021, Big 12 presidents voted to expand the league by four teams. Graciously accepting the invitational on behalf of UH were President Renu Khator, the University of Houston System Board of Regents Chairman Tilman Fertitta, and Vice President for Athletics Chris Pezman.
“As we embark on this new chapter, I extend my deepest gratitude to all who have been part of this journey. Joining the Big 12 conference marks a significant milestone for the University of Houston. It will propel us to even greater heights on the playing field and in our classrooms,” Khator said. “Through our membership to the Big 12, we are enhancing our national visibility and elevating our athletic, academic, and research pursuits by creating new avenues for collaboration. It is an exciting day in our institution’s history.”
The Cougars return to old rivalries against Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech, and Texas and Oklahoma. UH will continue recent rivalries from the American Athletic Conference vs. Cincinnati and UCF and start new ones against BYU, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and West Virginia.
The Cougars begin Big 12 competition when soccer faces Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, at 7 p.m., Sept. 14, while Football plays host to TCU at 7 p.m., Sept. 16, inside TDECU Stadium. Volleyball begins league play at BYU on Sept. 20.
“This marks a historic and proud moment for the University of Houston. Today has been a long time in coming, and many people have worked tirelessly through the years to put Houston in this position,” Fertitta said. “We are prepared, ready to compete, and excited about what the Cougars will bring to the Big 12 Conference.”
The move to the Big 12 has sparked excitement and optimism among Houston fans.
More than 23,000 Football season tickets, including 6,000 new paid season tickets, have been sold to set a TDECU Stadium record.
Houston Rise, the $150 million fundraising campaign for Houston Athletics dedicated to championship success in the Big 12, has already raised more than $60 million.
“This is a historic day for the University of Houston. As I look back over the years, there have been many pivotal moments and influential individuals responsible for paving the way to this moment. This transformation has been 30 years in the making,” Pezman said. “Our institution, programs, and student-athletes are eager to put UH’s own unique stamp on the Big 12 Conference.”
For the last decade, Houston competed in the American Athletic Conference. There, it collected 41 conference championships with at least four titles in each of the last eight seasons, the longest such streak in school history.