April 16, 2024

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USC and UCLA Plan to Leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024 with Imminent Announcement

USC and UCLA Plan to Leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024 with Imminent Announcement

The Pac-12 powers, USC and UCLA are finalizing plans to leave the conference for the Big Ten early in the 2024 sports season, sources have told Matt Norlander and Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. Although the move is not yet official, it appears that the Big Ten is aiming for a major acquisition that will change the college sports landscape.

An announcement to address the intentions of the USC and UCLA is expected Thursday afternoon, sources close to the situation said. USC and UCLA first need to inform Pac-12 of their decisions to leave the conference before they can apply for membership in the Big Ten. At this point, the Big Ten can vote on whether to expand their league, a development that could happen as early as Thursday night.

“Everything is on the table,” a Pac 12 source told Norlander, who also stated that the top 10 presidents and athletic directors met Wednesday night to discuss adding UCLA and UCLA to the conference.

USC and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten will be similar to the one that rocked college sports last summer when Texas and Oklahoma opted to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, a move that is set to happen before the 2025 season.

This led to a major rebound in reorganization as the 12 major, American and other conferences saw teams move in and out of their members. A similar situation would likely occur here if the USC and UCLA formalized their intentions to leave the Pac-12. The move would also form a striking divergence in the direction of UCLA and Cal, partners in the University of California system.

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Upon acquiring the Trojans and Bruins, the Big Ten would transform from a largely Midwest Conference to one stretching from New Jersey to California. It would be a huge shift in the college sports landscape at the Power Five level, which is largely localized with teams belonging mostly to the leagues in their geographic area.

“It’s all about SC at the end of the day: SC’s desire to move in, and then they need a partner in crime,” a Pac 12 source said. “It goes back to the value of USC football driving this and the Los Angeles market.”

USC and UCLA will bring Big Ten teams to a total of 16 teams, the same as the SEC number once Texas and Oklahoma are officially joined. The ACC has 14 teams, while the Big 12 settles into 12 with BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF in the fold after leaving UT and OU.

The acquisition would be a major coup for Big Ten’s fourth-year commissioner Kevin Warren, who is the first Power Five president to cancel the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news comes less than a year after the Big Ten and the Pac-12 – along with the ACC – announced a strategic alliance following the SEC’s additions to Texas and Oklahoma. This alliance has been light on substantive work from the start, and the poaching of two Pac-12 powers further undermines the idea that the leagues will work together in combating the SEC’s increasing hold on power in college sports.

With the Pac-12 media rights agreement expiring in 2024 and the Big Ten in the midst Negotiating a new media rights deal that could start as soon as next season and top $1 billion annually, the timing is natural for such discussions. The expiration of that Pac-12 deal should leave the USC and UCLA with little financial burden if they eventually choose to leave for the Big Ten.

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John Wellner of San Jose Mercury-News first reported that USC and UCLA were planning to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.