USC, UCLA leave Pac-12 for Big Ten in 2024: College sports begin their latest seismic tremor


USC, UCLA leave Pac-12 for Big Ten in 2024: College sports begin their latest seismic tremor

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

“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we enter the new world of varsity sports,” said USC athletic director Mike Bohn. “We are pleased that our values ​​align with the League’s member institutions. We will also benefit from the stability and strength of the conference, the sporting caliber of the Big Ten institutions, the increased visibility, exposure and resources the conference will bring to our students. athletes and programs; and the ability to grow engagement with our passionate alumni across the country.”

“After careful consideration and careful deliberation, UCLA has made the decision to exit the Pac-12 conference and join the Big Ten conference at the beginning of the 2024-25 season,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene D. Block and AD Martin Jarmond in a joint statement. “…Each school faces its own unique set of challenges and circumstances, and we believe this is the best move for UCLA right now. For us, this move provides greater security in rapidly changing times and ensures we are leaders in of collegiate athletics As the oldest NCAA Division I athletics conference in the United States, and with a presence that will now stretch from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Big Ten membership offers the Bruins exciting new competitive opportunities and a broader national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talents.”

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 was held Thursday night to officially welcome the programs to the league beginning August 2, 2024.

“As a national leader in academics and athletics for over 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically evaluated its membership with the common goal of advancing the academic and athletic mission for student athletes under the umbrella of higher education,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said . “Today’s unanimous vote demonstrates the deep respect and welcoming culture our entire conference has for the University of Southern California, chaired by President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, chaired by Chancellor Gene Block.”

Representatives from the 10 remaining Pac-12 programs are scheduled to speak Thursday night, sources tell Dodd. The Pac-12 would prefer to stay together, but key players recognize that can be difficult in the middle of a crucial period. There are reports that several Pac-12 programs have already contacted the Big Ten about potentially joining their membership.

The Pac-12 has faltered after losing two of its signature programs during ongoing negotiations for a new media rights deal. With current contracts expiring on June 30, 2024, Thursday was the final day for USC and UCLA to update the Pac-12 of their plans without likely incurring additional financial penalties, sources told Norlander.

“While we are extremely surprised and disappointed by the news coming out of UCLA and USC today, we have a long and rich history in athletics, science and leadership in supporting student-athletes that we are confident will continue.” they will continue to thrive and grow in the future,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “…We will continue to develop new and innovative programs that directly benefit our member institutions, and we look forward to working with current and potential ones members to collectively advance the future of collegiate athletics.”

This move also comes at a key time for the Big Ten, who will be expanding their conference with a few big brands while in the midst of their own Negotiations on a new media rights agreement. That deal could start as early as next season and is said to top $1 billion a year.

USC and UCLA’s transition to the Big Ten is similar to the one that rocked collegiate sports last summer, when Texas and Oklahoma opted to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, a move set to come ahead of the 2025 season. That sparked a realignment bonanza, with the Big 12, American and other conferences seeing teams in and out of their membership.

A similar domino effect is expected here, as the Pac-12 could leave other teams.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about SC: SC’s willingness to move and then they need a partner in crime,” a Pac-12 source told Dodd. “This ties into USC’s football value driving this and the LA market.”

The move represents a startling divergence in direction for UCLA, which is Cal’s partner in the University of California system and previously suggested the universities would stay connected. USC first decided to look into leaving the Pac-12 and approach UCLA as a partner, before both schools contacted the Big Ten to see if the conference would be interested in their membership, according to multiple reports.

The takeover of the Trojans and Bruins transforms the Big Ten from a Midwestern conference to one that stretches from New Jersey to the West Coast. It’s a significant shift in the collegiate sports landscape at the Power Five level, which has largely been localized with teams primarily belonging to leagues in their geographic area.

USC and UCLA bring the Big Ten to 16 teams total, the same number as the SEC once Texas and Oklahoma join the league. The ACC has 14 teams while the Big 12 settle at 12 with BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF in the group after UT and OU departed.

This acquisition is a significant coup for fourth-year Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, the first Power Five chief to cancel the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, it’s a potentially devastating blow to Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, whose one-year anniversary in office came as the news broke Thursday.

The Big Ten’s crackdown on two of the Pac-12’s most prominent programs comes less than a year after the two conferences — along with the ACC — announced a strategic alliance after the SEC added Texas and Oklahoma. That alliance was substantive from the start, and the Big Ten’s poaching of USC and UCLA only further undermines the notion that the leagues would work together to combat the SEC’s growing power in collegiate sports.

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