USC and UCLA to move from Pac-12 to Big Ten in 2024: College sports begin latest seismic shakeup

USC and UCLA were accepted as the newest members of the Big Ten conference, with league officials approving their membership Thursday night. The programs announced their respective departures from the Pac-12 beginning in 2024, with the pair marking a significant acquisition for the Big Ten that will dramatically change the college sports landscape.

“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we enter the new world of collegiate sports,” said USC athletic director Mike Bohn. “We are excited to have our values ​​align with league member institutions. We will also benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of the Big Ten institutions; the visibility, exposure and increased resources the conference will bring to our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our alumni nationwide.”

“After careful consideration and thoughtful deliberation, UCLA has decided to leave the Pac-12 conference and join the Big Ten conference at the start of the 2024-25 season,” UCLA Chancellor Gene D said. Block and AD Martin Jarmond in a combined statement. . “…Each school faces its own unique challenges and circumstances, and we believe this is the best decision for UCLA at this time. For us, this decision provides greater certainty in rapidly changing times. and ensures that we remain a leader in college athletics.As the oldest NCAA Division I athletic conference in the United States and with a footprint that will now stretch from the Pacific to the Atlantic, membership at the Big Ten provides the Bruins with exciting new competitive opportunities and a broader national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talents.”

The Big Ten presidents and athletic directors met for the first time Wednesday night to discuss adding USC and UCLA to the league, sources told CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander. A subsequent vote took place on Thursday evening to officially welcome the programs to the league starting August 2, 2024.

“As a national leader in college and athletics for more than 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically valued its members for the collective purpose of conveying the academic and athletic mission of student-athletes under the umbrella of educational superior,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin said. said Warren. “Today’s unanimous vote signifies our entire conference’s deep respect and welcoming culture for the University of Southern California, under the leadership of President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, under Chancellor Gene Block.”

Representatives of the remaining 10 Pac-12 programs are scheduled to speak Thursday night, sources told Dodd. The Pac-12 would rather stick together, but key players acknowledge that can be difficult in the midst of a crucial time. There are reports that several Pac-12 programs have already reached out to the Big Ten to potentially join its members.

The Pac-12 is in shock as it lost two of its flagship programs amid ongoing negotiations for a new media rights deal. Given that his current contracts expire on June 30, 2024, Thursday was the last day for USC and UCLA to notify the Pac-12 of their intention to leave without incurring additional financial penalties, sources told Norlander.

“While we are extremely surprised and disappointed by the news from UCLA and USC today, we have a long and rich history in athletics, academics and leadership in supporting student-athletes who , we are confident, will continue to thrive and become the future,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “…We will continue to develop innovative new programs that directly benefit our member institutions, and we look forward to partnering with current and potential members to create the future of college athletics together.”

This move also comes at a key time for the Big Ten, which will expand its conference with a few big brands while being in the middle of its own. negotiations for a new media rights agreement. This deal could start as soon as next season and would top $1 billion a year in value.

USC and UCLA’s transition to the Big Ten is similar to the one that rocked college sports last summer when Texas and Oklahoma opted out of the Big 12 for the SEC, a decision that is expected to happen before the 2025 season. This kicked off a realignment bonanza in which the Big 12, American and other conferences saw teams move in and out of their membership.

A similar domino effect should ensue here as the Pac-12 could see the release of additional teams.

“It’s all about SC ultimately: SC’s willingness to move, and then they need a partner in crime,” a Pac-12 source told Dodd. “It comes down to the value of USC football that’s driving this and the LA market.”

The move is a stunning divergence in direction for UCLA, which is Cal’s partner in the University of California system and had previously suggested the universities would remain tied. USC initially decided to explore the possibility of leaving the Pac-12, approaching UCLA as a partner before, according to several reports, the two schools contacted the Big Ten to determine if the conference would be interested in joining.

By acquiring the Trojans and the Bruins, the Big Ten transform from a Midwestern conference to one that stretches from New Jersey to the West Coast. This is a significant change in the college sports landscape at the Power Five level, which has been largely localized with teams mostly belonging to leagues in their geographic area.

USC and UCLA bring the Big Ten to a total of 16 teams, the same number as the SEC once Texas and Oklahoma entered the league. The ACC has 14 teams, while the Big 12 will settle at 12 with BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF in the fold following the departure of UT and OU.

The acquisition is a significant coup for fourth-year Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, the first Power Five boss to cancel the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. By contrast, it’s a potentially devastating blow to Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff, whose first anniversary on the job came when the news broke Thursday.

The Big Ten attacking two of the Pac-12’s most important programs comes less than a year after the two conferences — along with the ACC — announced a strategic alliance following the SEC’s additions of Texas and Oklahoma. This alliance was light on substantive action from the start, and the Big Ten’s poaching of USC and UCLA only further undermines the idea that the leagues would work together to combat the growing stranglehold. from the SEC on power in college sports.

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