UCF Officially Joins Big 12 Conference

The University of Central Florida officially joins the Big 12 Conference today in a landmark move that will enhance the university’s national profile and provide opportunities for UCF student-athletes to compete at the highest level.

“The Big 12 is thrilled to officially welcome UCF to the conference,” said Big 12 Conference Commissioner Brett Yormark. “UCF has experienced unprecedented growth and success since becoming a Division I program in 1996. With its addition, the Big 12 adds a university with one of the largest enrollments in the county--in one of America’s top destination cities that ranks as the seventeenth largest media market--and expands the conference footprint to one of the top states in the country for DI prospects.


"I look forward to working with President (Alex) Cartwright, Athletics Director Terry Mohajir and the entire university community. I can’t wait to be in FBC Mortgage Stadium on Saturday, September 30, for the Knights’ first Big 12 Conference home football game versus Baylor."


Known as America’s Space University, UCF’s growing reputation for innovation and impact is fueled by individuals reaching for the stars. The excellence of its people can be seen in UCF’s incredible outcomes, including 18,000 degrees awarded annually; ranking among the top 25 colleges and universities in the country for enrolled National Merit Scholars; and achieving $220 million in research expenditures.

“UCF’s move into the Big 12 demonstrates that the future of collegiate athletics is right here in Orlando,” said UCF Board of Trustees Chair Alex Martins. “The trajectory of UCF's athletics programs is only possible because of the support from our passionate community of Knights, which has led us to this historic moment when UCF enters the Big 12 as the youngest university in the Power 5.”

UCF is a University for the Future — a public metropolitan research university that leverages its location and strategic partnerships to inspire the innovation, creativity and discovery that help its students, state and society advance in positive ways.

"Our reputation for excellence across our institution--athletics, the arts, engineering, hospitality, sciences, and more--continues to grow as we build the University for the Future,” said UCF President Alexander N. Cartwright. “There is no doubt that UCF is on the rise, and we are headed for greatness--as the future of college sports and as one of the best public research universities in the country."

In 2022-23 UCF teams in women’s soccer, volleyball, softball, women’s tennis and women’s golf competed in NCAA Championships—and qualified individuals into NCAA play in women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, men’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis. UCF football has played in bowl games each of the last seven years and has competed in three New Year’s Six bowl games during the past nine seasons. The UCF men’s basketball team played in the second round of the 2023 National Invitation Tournament.

Knight teams won American Athletic Conference titles in 2022-23 in women’s soccer, volleyball, indoor and outdoor women’s track and field and softball. UCF had eight teams--men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, football, softball, women’s tennis, women’s golf, women’s outdoor track and field--rank in their respective top 25s at some point in 2022-23.

“Years from now, all those connected with our university will look back on this date—July 1, 2023—as a new beginning for UCF Athletics.”

Terry Mohajir, UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics

“Our official entrance today into the Big 12 Conference is two-pronged. First, it’s a tribute to hundreds of former student-athletes, coaches and athletic staff members—all of whom put UCF in a position for this opportunity to come about. Second, it’s a challenge to our current Knight teams and beyond, and all those who are a part of them, to make certain that UCF Athletics has a chance to be the first—not just in 2023-24 but in the years to come. We have any number of opportunities for Knight Nation to distinguish itself—and it’s our goal to take advantage of those.

“It’s appropriate to thank commissioners Bob Bowlsby and Brett Yormark, the Big 12 Board of Directors and the current athletics directors for showing confidence in UCF. It’s our intention to show that that confidence was well-placed.”  

UCF’s student-athletes have posted an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or higher for 31 consecutive semesters, including eight straight with at least a 3.3 mark. In addition, upon his arrival in February 2021, Mohajir instituted a guarantee of a job or graduate school placement for all student-athletes who graduate. All student-athletes who have graduated since then--or who had already graduated but had playing eligibility remaining–have achieved either a job or graduate school admission. 

The Big 12 Conference began competition in 1996-97, the same year UCF football moved up to Division I (now the Football Bowl Subdivision). Big 12 teams won four national championships in 2022-23 (Oklahoma in softball and women’s gymnastics, Texas in volleyball and women’s outdoor track and field), and they have won 81 NCAA team championships since the conference was established. The conference has produced seven Heisman Trophy winners.

The Big 12 now is comprised of 14 institutions after welcoming UCF, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston today, joining Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The league is an NCAA Division I intercollegiate athletics conference that encompasses eight states, three time zones and a combined population of over 79.3 million. Entering its 28th year, the conference has produced more than 800 Academic All-America selections and claimed national championship team titles in 20 of its 23 sponsored sports. Its student-athletes and teams have combined for 742 individual NCAA titles under the Big 12 banner. 

UCF on Sept. 10, 2021, initially accepted an invitation from the Big 12 to join the league. On June 9, 2022, the university announced that 2022-23 would be its last of 10 years as a member of the AAC in advance of beginning play in the Big 12 in 2023-24.

Knights’ athletic teams begin Big 12 competition in fall sports on Sept. 14, 2023, at home in women’s soccer versus West Virginia; Sept. 21-22, 2023, in volleyball at Cincinnati, and Sept. 23, 2023, in football at Kansas State.

UCF’s entrance into the Big 12 comes after previous conference relationships with the Sunshine State Conference (1975-84), New South Women’s Athletic Conference (1986-90 for women’s sports only), American South Conference (1990-91), Sun Belt Conference (1991-92), Atlantic Sun Conference (1992-2005), Mid-American Conference (2002-04 for football only), Conference USA (2005-12) and most recently the American Athletic Conference (2013-14 through 2022-23). The Knights began football competition in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in 1996. UCF’s first varsity athletic event was a men’s basketball game in 1969. 

For more Big 12 Conference information, visit Big12Sports.com and follow the Conference on Facebook (Facebook.com/Big12), Twitter (@Big12Conference), Instagram (Instagram.com/big12conference/) and YouTube (YouTube.com/Big12Conference).