The Big 12’s blockbuster addition of four new schools added three new and successful softball programs to the league. BYU, Houston, and UCF are all perennial postseason teams historically and all three are set to begin competing in the Big 12 within the next few years – and possibly sooner.
Following the official announcement of their respective programs joining the Big 12, JWOS spoke exclusively with the head coach of each program to get their thoughts on the move and what it means for their programs.
BYU head coach Gordon Eakin
“Joining the Big 12 is a great honor. The Big 12 is an incredible athletic conference in every sport. Softball in the Big 12 is always at the highest level and with the addition of UCF, Houston and BYU the competition level will continue to excel. Joining the Big 12 has already improved and lifted our recruiting. At BYU we have everything a prospect could want in the college experience, and now we belong to an incredible conference. Let’s go!”
Houston head coach Kristin Vesely
“The American Athletic Conference is known as a top softball conference. Going into the Big 12, it gives us Power 5 expectations.
We expect our program to go into the Big 12 and be competitive and compete for conference championships. That is unwavering from our staff and our Athletics Department.
When you talk about the Big 12, you are talking about top-quality softball. You are talking about opening the door to top-notch recruits, and you are talking about student-athlete welfare, playing schools within drivable distances. You are talking about bringing in revenue, which will enhance the student-athlete experience while they are at the University of Houston. You are talking about continuing to build the resources for the program to be successful.
This is nostalgic for me. I played in the Big 12 and competed for my entire college career. Being able to go back to the Big 12, knowing what it takes to win, is exciting.”
UCF head coach Cindy Ball-Malone
“First, I must acknowledge the role that the American Conference has played in our development as a softball program and as an athletic department. The competitive nature of the American conference is why we believe we will be able to compete for Big XII championships right away. We have been competing against ranked conference opponents and multiple regional teams within the American Conference every year that I’ve been at UCF.
We are excited for our journey into the Big XII and believe our new conference membership is the gateway to what’s possible for future student athletes who want to compete for National Championships. UCF, the city of Orlando, and the state of Florida provide student athletes everything they could dream of when it comes to a complete college experience. Our membership in the Big XII builds on the opportunities our student athletes already have when it comes to exposure, recognition, and a successful career after college softball.
We have benefited from the hard work and vision of a university and administrators who weren’t afraid to dream big. Our program has been ready to match their boldness by making our brand known across the country. We are here. We are ready. We are Knight Nation.”