Today, the University of Houston will accept an invitation to the Big East Conference. This is a great day for both the University and city of Houston. Already recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as a Tier One research university, the ability to play in a major athletic conference will bring the national prestige and recognition that such an excellent university deserves.

I have been fighting for years to get UH into a major athletic conference. While I would have liked for the university to be able to join other Texas schools in the Big 12, the Big East is nevertheless a great honor and opportunity. Belonging to a legitimate BCS Conference such as the Big East will result in high quality match-ups, giving the school’s excellent athletes the chance to play with – and beat – the best. Moreover, the University will have the opportunity to compete for a BCS bowl bid year in and year out, something that had previously been an uphill battle.

While UH will obviously benefit from this move, the Big East has just been made stronger as well. In UH, the Big East is admitting a top flight institution with a great history of academic and athletic excellence. Those of us who have been following sports in Houston can remember the previous athletic successes of the university, such as “Phi Slama Jama” and Andre Ware’s successful Heisman run, but it appears that the university’s best days are still ahead.

The University of Houston is the third largest university in the state, the flagship university of one of the country’s largest metropolitan areas, and is situated in one of the most fertile recruiting areas in the country. With this latest step, UH is poised to showcase to the whole nation what great things are happening right here in our backyard. Much credit must be given to the outstanding leadership of UH Chancellor and President Renu Khator, because the future of UH has never been brighter.

Finally, I want to congratulate the UH football team on one of its most successful seasons ever. Led by head coach Kevin Sumlin and quarterback Case Keenum, the Cougars amassed an impressive 12-1 record and earned the right to play Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl on New Years Day in Dallas, Texas. Moreover, this year, Case Keenum became the all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns in NCAA history and was touted by many as a potential Heisman Award candidate. UH has proven itself to be one of the best football teams in the state, and I look forward to the years of success that await the school in all athletics in the Big East. Good luck against Penn State, and Go Coogs!

Click here to read the story in today’s Houston Chronicle about the move.

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