The Big 12 Conference was formed in February 1994 when four prominent colleges from Texas that were members of the Southwest Conference were invited to join the eight members of the Big Eight Conference to form a new 12 member conference. The Big 12 does not claim the Big Eight's history as its own, even though it was essentially the Big Eight plus the four Texas schools.|
The Big 12 began athletic play in the fall of 1996, with the Texas Tech vs. Kansas State football game being the first-ever sports event staged by the conference. From its formation until 2011, its 12 members competed in two divisions in most sports. The Oklahoma and Texas schools formed the South Division, while the other six teams of the former Big Eight formed the North Division.
Between 2011 and 2012 four charter members left the conference, while two schools joined in 2012.