USC and UCLA are reportedly leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024 in a move that figures to have major ramifications for college sports – especially non-revenue ones.
According to Jon Wilner, the move “has not been finalized at the highest levels of power,” but The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach reported that it’s all but wrapped up and could be announced officially today.
One Big Ten coach told SwimSwam that the rumors were “credible.”
Multiple sources told The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman that the two Pac-12 schools were the ones to approach the Big Ten about switching conferences. Sources told the LA Times’ Ryan Kartje that USC was the driving force behind the move, which will reportedly include all sports except for beach volleyball. It’ll be a huge financial boost for UCLA, which posted a record $62.5 million deficit last year.
After the SEC added Oklahoma and Texas last summer, the Big Ten reached a handshake agreement with the Pac-12 and the ACC to not poach each other’s members. It didn’t last long.
USC and UCLA could experience a bit of a culture shock going from sunny West Coast playing fields to the snowy, gray conditions of the Big Ten. The geography of the new Big Ten – which will actually include 16 schools – now stretches nearly 2,800 miles from Los Angeles to New Brunswick, New Jersey. For non-revenue sports, the move is puzzling: Will USC really be flying out to Penn State for a Tuesday night soccer match? It’s yet another example that education is not the priority for college athletes as courts ponder their status as employees.
It’s also worrying news for the Pac-12, now set to become the Pac-10 again. And that’s if they can keep members such as Oregon, Washington, Utah, Arizona State, and others who might also be looking for a way out.
Some are already speculating that the Power 5 could soon become a Power 2 with 20 or more members in each conference. Revenue projections from March indicated that the SEC and Big Ten will nearly double the revenue of the Pac-12, ACC, and Big 12 by 2026 — and that is before the move of USC and UCLA, two of the Pac-12’s most valuable properties.
Will the Power 5 soon become the Power 2?
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) June 30, 2022
The Big Ten is currently negotiating its next media rights deal. Its existing deals with ESPN and Fox run through the next academic year, 2022-23. With the addition of USC and UCLA, the conference would effectively unify the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 9 television markets in the country.