Dancing With the Stars fans have been wondering if Derek Hough will return to Season 17 since before last season ended; the fact that he walked away from Season 16 with the crown just intensified speculation that he would bow out of the competition going forward. But is that really true?

Update 8/5: When Access Hollywood asked Derek if he was returning for Season 17, he answered with a straightforward, "yes." That sounds pretty definitive!

Original story: So far, we haven't heard anything definitive about the fan-fave pro's future with the show. There have been hints that he could be in negotiations to return, but he's also busy with other opportunities, and he's on record saying he almost didn't come back for Season 16, which suggests he might be ready for a break.

However, a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times seems to point to Derek's return after all.

While the bulk of the interview is about his recent performance with the LA Philharmonic and his other upcoming projects, near the end the article states, "Of course, [Derek] will be back for the new season of Dancing With the Stars, which begins Sept. 16."

Whoa. That sounds like pretty definitive confirmation to us, and Derek promoted the article on Twitter without debating the confirmation. Does this mean he's really back?

Either way, Derek told the Los Angeles Times that he's all for DWTS's new one day a week format, which he says will make it "a much better show... It's going to be high impact and nonstop."

Catch the Dancing With the Stars Season 17 premiere on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Source: Los Angeles Times, Access Hollywood