On September 10th, the University of Houston received and accepted an invitation to the Big 12. It was a momentous occasion for UH and especially the school’s fans. The change in conferences means the University can expect to make millions more each year in conference distributions of television, bowl, CFP, and NCAA Tournament revenue. The agreement(s) with the Big 12 will guide UH’s athletics finances and direction for decades.
With all this in mind, GoCoogs.com made a standard request for any contracts and/or memorandum of understanding between the University of Houston and the Big 12 Conference. We wanted to understand what UH agreed to in order to gain acceptance to the Big 12, what the school agreed to pay as an entrance fee, any due dates associated with those payments, and any timeline on payments from UH to the conference.
Signed and done… BIG XII, here we come! Thank you all for believing in UH and supporting us through the years. Go Coogs! pic.twitter.com/isUrPSPurr
— Renu Khator (@UHpres) September 10, 2021
We made the request under the Texas Public Information Act, which the Attorney General defines as “a mechanism for citizens to inspect or copy government records.” It is a routine request and the University receives thousands of them each year. UH has fulfilled numerous public information requests in the past for GoCoogs.com, usually for employment contracts with coaches but also for third-party contracts with LSSE for games held at NRG Stadium.
On Friday, the University requested an attorney general decision on whether the documents are subject to public disclosure. UH claims it does not have an issue releasing the documents but because “third party proprietary interests have been implicated by this request, the University has declined to release the information.” That third party is the Big 12 Conference.
The conference’s Executive Associate Commissioner Kelvin Smith was copied on UH’s response to our request. The Big 12 Conference has 10 business days to respond to the AG to object to the release of any documents and the AG will make a ruling on whether Texas law requires UH to release the contracts. The AG is generally required to issue a decision within 45 business days.
Our intent is to understand what UH has agreed to with the Big 12 and what UH’s financial obligations are as it relates to the conference. We believe this is public information and should be made available. A PDF copy of the letter UH sent is here.