The University of Houston has been clamoring for months, if not years, for a spot in the Big 12 Conference. On Thursday, it received a lot of powerful support.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves and UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven all posted messages on Twitter expressing support for the idea of the Houston Cougars joining the major college athletics conference. Taken together, it was an overwhelming show of support for the university. Most of those officials had stayed quiet on the issue until Thursday.
Abbott's tweet came first, saying, "Big 12 expansion is a non-starter unless it includes University of Houston."
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) July 21, 2016
Five hours later, Fenves seemed to agree, saying he supports considering Houston.
"UH is a huge asset for Texas," Fenves said.
As we look at opportunities for Big 12 expansion, I support considering @UHouston for the conference. UH is a huge asset for Texas.— Greg Fenves (@gregfenves) July 21, 2016
Patrick and McRaven then weighed in after that.
— Dan Patrick (@DanPatrick) July 21, 2016
Talk of Big 12 expansion ramped up this week after conference leaders expressed interest in the idea during their annual football media days event. The conference has only had 10 members since Texas A&M University, the University of Nebraska, the University of Colorado and the University of Missouri left in 2011 and 2012. Texas Christian University and West Virginia University took two of those vacant spots, but the others have remained empty.
The other Texas schools in the conference are Texas Tech University and Baylor University. UH has not been in a major conference since the Southwest Conference broke up in the 1990s. Since then, it has experienced success in high profile sports like baseball and, lately, football. Last year, the football team won the prestigious Peach Bowl.
Joining the Big 12 would be huge for the athletics teams and the university as a whole. UH has strived to raise its stature in recent years, and a spot in a top tier conference would surely raise its notoriety.
Support from UT-Austin and the governor is no guarantee, however. The school may have to deal with resentment from schools outside of Texas who may be weary of the state's schools dominating league politics.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.