CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati's Athletic Department officially launched its $100 million Day One Ready Campaign, one of the largest fundraisers the school has set in motion. 

What You Need To Know

  • After a silent launch in January 2020, the Day One Ready Campaign went public this month

  • Funds will be split between a new indoor practice facility, updates to current facilities and student-athlete mental health and wellness

  • Athletic Director John Cunningham said funds will help prepare UC for its move into the Big 12, happening in the summer of 2024

The Day One Ready Campaign started with a silent launch in January 2020, accepting funds from private donors. Now it's public, and Athletics Director John Cunningham said it'll help prepare for the university's next steps. 

Much of the money will be split between an endowment that will provide permanent funding for student-athletes to access mental health and wellness services, a new indoor-practice facility for the football team and enhancements to facilities for the men's and women's basketball teams in Fifth Third Arena.

Other priorities include:

  • Funding for a full-time sports nutritionist 
  • The creation of the Student-Athlete Career Development Institute, which is aimed to prepare student-athletes for careers after college
  • Updates to other facilities, such as scoreboard upgrades and sound systems
  • Endowed scholarships
  • The Bearcats Air Fund, which looks to fund private air travel for recruitment purposes

The campaign is slated to end on June 30, 2024, and the Bearcats will enter the Big 12 no later than July 1, 2024. 

"For all of us who embody the grit, hustle and heart of the University of Cincinnati, this is big," Cunningham said. "We didn’t wait for this moment. We worked for it. And now that it’s here, we’re not getting complacent — we’re coming for the head seat at the table. As the Bearcats prepare to call the Big 12 home, our vision of Next Level Success is more important than ever before. The collective investments we make in UC Athletics today positions every student-athlete who wears Cincinnati across their chest to be champions tomorrow."

UC accepted the invite to the Big 12 in September. The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors voted unanimously, 8-0, to invite UC, Brigham Young University (BYU), the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the University of Houston in hopes of getting back to a 12-team formation. 

The conference took a hit over the summer when it was announced that Oklahoma and Texas — arguably the two most prominent programs in the league — were leaving for the SEC. That move will likely take place in 2025, based on current financial and league agreements, per CBS Sports.

It remains unclear when exactly UC will leave the AAC, but the release from the university said it will take place "no later than July 1, 2024."

The American Athletic Conference would require Cincinnati and the other two AAC schools to provide a 27-month notice, or pay an early exit fee of $10 million, according to the CBS Sports report. BYU, as an independent, would not be bound by those same rules.

Currently, UC is in the midst of a historic football season. Right now, the team sits at No. 4 — the highest ranking in school history, moving the school into College Football Playoff position. 

A team from outside the Power Five conferences has never been selected for the semifinals in the previous seven years of the College Football Playoff.

Heading into the final full weekend of games, one loaded with playoff and conference championship implications, Cincinnati (11-0) seems to have a realistic path to a playoff spot no matter what happens around the Bearcats.

Digital Reporter Casey Weldon contributed to this story.