03 August, 2023
According to insiders, the Big Ten has begun to consider adding more teams to its current 16-team conference, and league members are currently engaging informal discussions about a potential 20-team expansion. The Pac-12 is considering the Pac-12 members Oregon, Washington, California, and Stanford; but, if the Big Ten decides to add two more schools and grow to an 18-team conference, Oregon and Washington will be the main targets.
The league, which reached 16 members after the addition of USC and UCLA from the Pac-12, appeared to have closed the door on further expansion, is only in the early phases of these exploratory negotiations. At the start of the 2024–25 athletic year, the Trojans and Bruins will join the Big Ten.
The Big Ten Conference said in a statement to CBS Sports that it was still concentrating on the unification of USC and UCLA, but that it was also the responsibility of the commissioner to tell conference chancellors and presidents of any new developments as they happened.
As Yahoo Sports initially reported, there won’t be any upcoming arrivals. Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah are reportedly considering similar transfers to the Big 12, meanwhile, in light of Colorado’s addition to the Big 12 from the Pac-12 last week and the Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff’s planned media rights contract not proving to be financially viable enough for other teams in the league.
The Pac-12 might have as few as six members if Arizona or all three of its programs leave, with Oregon, Washington, California, and Stanford the most illustrious institutions still in the conference. (The other two are Oregon State and Washington State.) When that happens, it might be wiser for the Big Ten to step up its attempts to win over the finest surviving programs.
According to reports, Pac-12 schools are hesitant to take a step that would destabilize the conference. The greatest media rights offer for the Pac-12, though, appears to be an Apple TV streaming arrangement, which would reportedly fetch programs about $20 million yearly, more than $10 million less than their Big 12 counterparts. In many respects, the market has spoken. (Escalators could increase the price of the Apple TV offer.) Potential linear television partners don’t seem keen on any kind of substantial Pac-12 rights package.
The Pac-12 is in jeopardy as a result of the exits of USC and UCLA, which were announced in June 2022. The conference’s importance has decreased without the Los Angeles media market in the picture. The league still doesn’t have a media rights agreement in place for the upcoming 2023–2024 season.
For the time being, attention is focused on the Pac-12 to see if anything changes following Kliavkoff’s meeting with university administration on Tuesday. Before the Big 12 was able to effectively entice the Buffaloes back to their former home, the “Four Corners” institutions of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah were long considered expansion candidates for the Big 12.
San Diego State and SMU are two institutions that have been mentioned as potential Pac-12 expansion candidates should the conference, which is now composed mainly of existing members, need to add more schools.