Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Texas Christian University put its desire to rekindle local rivalries ahead of an undertaking to join the Big East as it accepted an invitation to become the 10th member of the Big 12 Conference.
TCU will join the Big 12 in 18 sports, Interim Commissioner Chuck Neinas said at a news conference yesterday in Fort Worth, Texas. The Horned Frogs will become a member on July 1, TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said.
TCU will join a league that includes former Southwest Conference rivals Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech after the school’s board of trustees unanimously accepted the Big 12’s Oct. 6 invitation, Del Conte said.
“Joining the Big 12 brings us back to share a rich tradition with a lot of schools that we already have natural rivalries with,” TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr. said at the news conference.
Since forming in 1996 after the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, which included TCU, the Big 12 has had 42 team NCAA titles and 492 individual national championships, according to its website. Last season, the conference had the nation’s top team in eight of the 23 sports in which it competes.
The TCU football team has qualified for postseason bowl games in 12 of the past 13 seasons and last year became the first school from a non-automatic-qualifying conference to play in two consecutive Bowl Championship Series games. The Horned Frogs won the 2011 Rose Bowl with a 21-19 victory over Wisconsin and finished the year ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll.
The university’s basketball team last made the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament in 1998 and hasn’t had a winning season in six years. It will join a Big 12 that has earned 42 bids to the NCAA tournament in the past eight years.
The school is spending $105 million on a new press box and more seating for the start of the 2012 football season at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
TCU isn’t bound by a 27-month notice period to leave the Big East, though it will have to pay an exit fee, which Del Conte declined to disclose. The amount is $5 million, the Associated Press reported.
The defection to the Big 12 may trigger a new wave of conference switches. If the University of Missouri stays in the Big 12, the conference will probably stay at 10 teams, CBSSports.com reported last week.
If the Tigers leave, the conference might look to add three more schools. Leading candidates include Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati from the Big East and Brigham Young, an independent, according to CBSSports.com.
The Big East announced that it will consider adding six football-playing schools to bring its membership to 12. Pittsburgh and Syracuse said Sept. 18 they’ll leave the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Big 12 has lost three members in the past two years. Nebraska joined the Big Ten, Colorado joined the Pacific 12 before the start of this season and Texas A&M said last month it will leave for the Southeastern Conference.
--With assistance from Curtis Eichelberger in Washington. Editors: Dex McLuskey, Rob Gloster.
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