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Cincinnati, UCF and Houston set Big 12 timeline

Cincy, UCF and Houston reportedly have reached a deal on when they'll be allowed to leave the AAC for the Big 12.

UCF, Houston and Cincinnati have a date set for their transition to the Big 12.

The three schools have reached a deal that will allow for their exit from the AAC in the summer of 2023, where they will then become members of the new-look Big 12. (Max Olson of The Athletic first reported the news.) 

AAC bylaws required 27 months notice and a $10 million buyout to leave the league. The three schools accepted invitations last September, cutting the 27-month lead time down to just 21, so the $10 million figure may have been negotiated upward. (The Athletic reports the exit fee will be $18 million.)

Houston AD Chris Pezman has confirmed the $18 million buyout figure for each school, which will be payed over 14 years. More specifially, the original $10 million AAC exit fee has to be paid before 2025, with the additional $8 million to be paid over a 12-year period starting in 2025.

The fourth incoming member, BYU, is a football independent.

Landing three of the premier Group of Five programs, each of which brings with them a major media market, marks a significant step for the Big 12 after losing blue bloods like Oklahoma and Texas in their move to the SEC.

All three programs bring with them impressive momentum into their final season of AAC play before embarking on their Big 12 journey.

Cincinnati is coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff and has solidified themselves as a top program under Luke Fickell and his staff.

Houston just wrapped up a 12-win season under Dana Holgorsen, who left West Virginia to take over the Cougars prior to the 2019 season.

At UCF, Gus Malzahn is in year two continuing UCF's rich tradition of high level play while recently dominating the transfer portal for some of the top Power Five talent. He finished with 9-wins in his first season.

Adding the four schools a year earlier than anticipated means that, as of today, the Big 12 will play two seasons as a 14-team member conference. Texas and Oklahoma are slated to remain in the conference through the 2024 season. In 2012, the Big 12's then-10 members extended the conferences Grant of Rights through the 2024-25 athletic year, thereby tying each school's media rights to the conference. On top of finding a legal avenue to break that contract, the schools will also have to come up with an $80 million exit fee.

The news also means the 2022 season will be the AAC's last with its three most valuable members. Cincinnati, Houston and UCF have won or shared eight AAC titles, first awarded in 2013, including five of the seven AAC championship games. The conference has already secured memberships of UAB, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice and UTSA. 

Anticipating today's news, the AAC arranged to add those schools "as soon as 2023" when their invitations were awarded and accepted last October. It's expected those entities will now work to advance their respective timelines to join the league next summer. In fact, their July 1, 2023 entry date will likely become official later today.

Those moves will have consequences for Conference USA, who was the biggest loser in the SEC's annexation of Texas and Oklahoma. C-USA already suffered the defections of Old Dominion and Southern Miss a year early -- they're already card-carrying members of the Sun Belt. Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston are slated to join that league next summer, combining with the five remaining members (FIU, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP and Western Kentucky) to reset as a 9-team conference. 

Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.