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BYU Athletics Officially Joins The Big 12 Conference

Jul 1, 2023, 12:00 AM | Updated: 12:01 am

BYU Athletics, Big 12 Conference...

BYU athletics has officially joined the Big 12 Conference as of July 1, 2023. (Matthew Norton/BYU Photo)

(Matthew Norton/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU athletics is officially in a Power Five conference.

As the clock struck midnight for July 1, the once Cinderella athletics program didn’t suddenly turn into a pumpkin. Instead, it ushered in a new era for BYU sports as a member of the Big 12 Conference.

BYU fans were at the Student Athlete Building for a celebration to ring in BYU’s membership into the Big 12 Conference on Friday night.

After the clock struck midnight, fireworks went off in Provo and Y Mountain was lit to ring in the new era of BYU athletics.

Since BYU was invited into the Big 12 on September 10, 2021, 659 days have passed. During that time, they have been ramping up their efforts to prepare for life in the Big 12.

BYU athletics joins Big 12 Conference

BYU joins the Big 12 alongside UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston. The Knights, Bearcats, and Cougars from Texas were previously in the American Athletic Conference.

“Having observed where the four schools have been over the last nine months, they’ve had two years and a two-year runway effectively to get ready,” Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said. “They have built infrastructure, they’ve invested resources, and I’m really pleased with where they are right now.”

The membership in the Big 12 will be at 14 teams for the 2023-24 academic year. Then it will drop to its namesake 12 institutions after Texas and Oklahoma officially exit for the Southeastern Conference (SEC) next year.

“Very excited to be welcoming the four schools in,” Yormark said. “They’ve been very much a part of what we’ve been doing over the last nine or ten months since I’ve been here. They’ve been fully engaged. But officially, they are members in July, and we’re going to celebrate it.”

Power Five era

For BYU’s storied football program, the Big 12 will be the sixth different conference in the 101-year history of the program.

In 1922, BYU was a member of the Rocky Mountain Conference. Then in 1938, they were in the Mountain States Athletic Conference. After that, it was the Skyline Conference in 1948; they were a founding member of the Western Athletic Conference in 1962.

After 37 years of competing in the WAC and putting its football program on the national stage, headlined by a National Championship in 1984, BYU helped create the Mountain West Conference in 1999.

Then in 2011, BYU declared its football independence and placed all its Olympic sports in the West Coast Conference.

BYU athletics teams in the Big 12

The Big 12 Conference is the first power league that BYU has been a member of in its athletic department history.

BYU athletics will compete 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.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Athletics Officially Joins The Big 12 Conference