The next step in the latest round of conference realignment in college athletics became official Friday, moving the process ever closer to impacting North Texas.
The Big 12 presidents voted to add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the league. The four schools will help fill the void left when Texas and Oklahoma agreed to move to the SEC.
Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are all members of the American Athletic Conference, which issued a statement from commissioner Mike Aresco.
“We remain unified and resolute and will consider our options as we move The American into our second decade and beyond,” the statement read in part.
The Mountain West issued a statement from its board of directors.
“As potential further conference realignment unfolds, the Mountain West continues to assess strategic options for continued growth and development,” the statement said.
The expectation in college athletics is that more moves are on the way. UNT is preparing for any opportunities that could transpire as a result.
UNT has been a member of Conference USA since 2013 and has dramatically bolstered its resume over the last decade.
The school opened Apogee Stadium, its $78 million football stadium before the 2011 season and a $16 million indoor practice facility in 2019.
UNT won a game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the first time this spring and is in located in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
School officials told the Denton Record-Chronicle in late July that they were prepared to make the case that the school is prepared to join another league that offers a better situation should the opportunity arise.
Those officials reiterated that stance this week as the Big 12’s intensions to expand came closer to fruition.
UNT will now wait to see what those opportunities might be.
The AAC will have eight football programs remaining in the league following the departure of three schools for the Big 12.
“Our remaining schools are unwavering in their commitment to competing and succeeding at the highest level and we will not allow external factors to put a ceiling on our potential,” Aresco’s statement said.
C-USA’s issued a statement from commissioner Judy MacLeod in late July addressing realignment. The league lost several key members during a round of realignment from 2013-14 when SMU, Tulsa and Houston left and ended up in the AAC.
“Conference USA continues to monitor the ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics,” MacLeod’s statement said. “Our Board of Directors met Monday morning and will remain engaged, discussing recent developments and evaluating opportunities to strengthen and best position our member institutions collectively.”
UNT officials have cited the school’s jump to C-USA from the Sun Belt after the 2011-12 school year as a key factor in the program’s growth. The Sun Belt also issued a statement on realignment. The league quickly reloaded after it was raided by C-USA.
Appalachian State and Coastal Carolina have risen to become powers at the Group of Five level after joining the Sun Belt.
“The Sun Belt Conference could not have positioned itself better for this moment as the landscape shifts across conferences,” commissioner Keith Gill said. “We have never been stronger.
“If we identify a school that adds value to the Sun Belt, we’ll certainly consider them for membership.”
UNT officials have been consistent in their message to supporters. UNT is aiming to become the best it can be in C-USA while preparing for any opportunities that arise.
That possibility of an opportunity arriving inched closer on Friday the Big 12 officially expanded.