Cincinnati Athletics: Upcoming Big 12 move could bring department boom

When the Bearcats officially move to the Big 12 Conference next July, there’s a chance it could lead to a major athletics boom and a potential investment into the hockey and softball programs. It sounds like nothing will happen in the near future but the possibility remains open down the line as the department adjusts to life in a Power Five league.

Cincinnati Athletics: Upcoming Big 12 move could bring department boom

Cincinnati director of athletics John Cunningham said it’s not required to add any sports moving to the Big 12 but it might happen later on. Softball is very popular in the Big 12 but the conference doesn’t sponsor any ice hockey programs so that could be a challenge as the Bearcats currently compete as a Division II Independent.

“When we spoke to the Big 12 initially back in August, we asked that question (about adding other sports) and it’s not something we have to do,” Cunningham explained in a press conference last month. “As we go forward, we will explore different possibilities down the line so I wouldn’t say yes or no at this point.”

The Bearcats are set to double its revenue from the Big 12 television rights and likely even more due to an upgrade in notoriety and popularity that drastically increased since Luke Fickell was hired in 2016. If the basketball and football teams can compete at a high level going forward, the other programs will have a chance to flourish.

Cunningham later discussed the athletic department’s goals: “We recognize that going into the Big 12, some sports have a bigger runway than the others to be ready to compete and win championships. We have to go in with football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, and be ready on day one. That’s really what we’re focusing on.”