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October 10, 2011

TCU accepts Big 12 invite

On Monday night, TCU accepted an invitation to join the Big 12, thus returning them to a place they haven't experienced since 1996 when the Southwest Conference dissolved.

The TCU board of trustees met Monday evening and unanimously voted to accept the invitation from the Big 12 that was extended last Thursday. TCU Chancellor Victor Boshchini Jr. made the announcement to a room full of Frog supporters and members of the media.

"This is a big day for us here at Texas Christian University and I'm pleased to announce that today our board of trustees has accepted an invitation to join the Big 12 athletic conference," he announced. "I want to thank Mr. Neinas and the presidents of the Big 12 for inviting us. Joining the Big 12 brings us back to share a rich tradition with a lot of schools that we already had natural rivalries with."

TCU, a current member of the Mountain West Conference, has played in three different conferences and was set to play in the Big East in 2012. Now, the Frogs will join the Big 12 officially on July 1, 2012.

The move will renew old Southwest Conference rivalries with Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas spoke of TCU's path back to the Big 12.

"Chancellor, TCU has traveled a long path, been to different places. Sir, I'd like to welcome you home," Neinas said. "TCU has an outstanding record with student athletes. Take a look at their APR and graduation rate and you can see they emphasis student. Then you take a look at their success, and that's athletes."

It has been a long traveled path back home. TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte, who many say was the force behind the move, became emotional when addressing the TCU coaches, athletes and supporters on how far TCU has come to get back to this place.

"Since the day we left the Southwest Conference, we never made an excuse, 'why not us'. You guys decided we will take care of our own, we will get to the promise land if we work hard and believe in each other, and you did that," he said. "Today is living proof that dreams do come true because of your efforts."

Del Conte said he got the call from Neinas at 7:42 Thursday morning and "nearly passed out" when he was informed of the invitation. Del Conte admitted afterward that he went to his office to shed a tear.

TCU will not be held to the Big East 27-month notification of departure. However, they must pay an exit fee which Del Conte declined to give the exact amount. Most believe that amount to be $5 million.

Not only will TCU see a financial windfall thanks to the Big 12 TV revenue sharing, they should see a boost in recruiting. TCU boasted a top 25 recruiting class in 2011 and are currently sitting at No. 22 in the Rivals.com team rankings.

Head football coach Gary Patterson agrees that the move will help recruiting, especially in the DFW area, noting that TCU will be the first and only team competing in the Big 12 that resides in the metroplex.

"We've got to do a great job of encircling that," Patterson said of the impact of DFW recruiting. "Even the other day we watched Texas and OU and saw the players from the metroplex in that game, so we've got to try to do a good job and keep those guys at home."

Patterson, who says the road won't be easy in the Big 12, understands the move likely won't have a big impact on the 2012 class. Thanks to new facilities and a BCS bid in a conference that geographically makes sense, looking forward he says opponents won't be able to use the same excuses to players on why they shouldn't choose the Frogs.

"If you just look at the landscape for what kids think, really the only thing that has been held against us in recruiting is not being part of the Big 12. We've lost guys that said they loved TCU but didn't come because we weren't in the Big 12. Now, here we are."

With TCU not headed to the Big East, that leaves the conference with only six members who participate in football. Syracuse and Pitt are scheduled to leave the conference in 2014. Del Conte didn't give an exact timeline for when discussions between TCU and the Big 12 began to take place after it was apparent that the Big East was on unstable ground. He also admitted it was a very tough conversation with Big East commissioner John Marinatto when he informed him of TCU's intentions.

Marinatto released a statement on Monday expressing his disappointment of losing TCU.

"Although never having competed as a member of the Big East Conference, we are disappointed with the news that TCU is joining the Big 12," he said. "As noted earlier today, our presidents met via teleconference this morning to focus on the future and have authorized us to engage in formal expansion discussions with additional institutions. We anticipate taking action in the near future."

The Frogs have played in consecutive BCS bowls and last season won the Rose Bowl with a 21-19 victory over Wisconsin. The win helped the Frogs finish #2 in both the AP and Coaches Polls(highest since 1938) and it marked the third time since 2008 the Frogs have finished in the top 10.

Some speculation says that TCU is expected to take over the vacated 2012 schedule from Texas A&M's move to the SEC. Del Conte says that could be true.

"We'll figure out the whole situation and where we're at, I'm assuming we are just because of the landscape we're at. I think we'll have some different opportunities. Just know that were in the Big 12," he finished.

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