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Cincinnati to join the Big 12 Conference

.It felt like it took a lifetime, and in many respects it did, but in actuality, it took about 50 days for the University of Cincinnati to join the Power Five and become the newest member of the Big 12 Conference.

After the University of Cincinnati on Friday accepted the Big 12's invitation to join the conference, UC President Neville G. Pinto and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby both wanted to make sure UC Director of Athletics John Cunningham received all of the credit for building the bridge between UC and the school's new home conference.

More:University of Cincinnati accepts invitation to Big 12 Conference

"I advised you earlier today to take full credit for having done every last ounce of this," Bowlsby told Cunningham during the video conference welcoming Cincinnati to the Big 12. "You're going to get blamed for things you didn't do, so take credit even if you don't deserve it."

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to reporters during Big 12 media days on July 14, 2021.

"I know that's part of the deal," Cunningham quipped back. "Thank you for that advice."

Cunningham, who was hired as UC's director of athletics in December 2019, has had perhaps the most eventful, pressure-packed first two years on the job of any athletic director on record.

From eliminating the UC men's soccer program to leading the athletic department through a global pandemic, and firing one men's basketball coach and hiring another, then sifting through a lawsuit brought by the fired coach, it's been a nonstop thrill ride for Cunningham,

UC president Neville G. Pinto hands John Cunningham, UC Athletic director, a jersey during his first press conference as University of Cincinnati's Athletic Director on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, at Fifth Third Arena at the University of Cincinnati in Cincinnati.

"It's been wild, but a lot of fun, and from Day 1, this is where we wanted to be," Cunningham said Friday. "This is just awesome."

On July 26, Texas and Oklahoma notified the Big 12 that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. It was the first signal that the two schools were leaving the Big 12 and joining the Southeastern Conference.


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