LOS ANGELES (ABC4 Sports) – In a devastating blow to the Pac-12 Conference and a move that will change the entire landscape of college athletics, both USC and UCLA are moving to the Big Ten Conference in 2024.
The move was officially announced Thursday evening by both schools.
UCLA and USC had been original founding members of the conference dating back to 1928.
The Pac-12 released a statement Thursday night.
While we are extremely surprised and disappointed by the news coming out of UCLA and USC today, we have a long and storied history in athletics, academics, and leadership in supporting student-athletes that we’re confident will continue to thrive and grow into the future. The Pac-12 is home to many of the world’s best universities, athletic programs and alumni, representing one of the most dynamic regions in the United States. We’ve long been known as the Conference of Champions, and we’re unwavering in our commitment to extend that title. We will continue to develop new and innovative programs that directly benefit our member institutions, and we look forward to partnering with current and potential members to pioneer the future of college athletics together.Pac-12 Conference
University of Utah athletic director Mark Harlan and school president Taylor Randall released the following statement Thursday night:
“This is a significant development that impacts each Pac-12 member institution and alters the landscape of intercollegiate athletics.
At the University of Utah, we are very confident in the strength and trajectory of our institution and our athletics programs, coming off another elite year of academic performance, a Pac-12 championship season in football and our most successful year, collectively, across all of our sports since joining the Conference in 2011.
We have been in frequent communication with one another since this information came to light, and we will continue to stay in close communication with Conference leadership and our fellow Conference members as developments unfold.”
The Pac-12 has lagged behind other major conferences for years in media rights revenue, distributing $344 million among its schools in the 2021 fiscal year. In the same year, the Big Ten handed out $680 million.
The Big Ten is currently negotiating its next media rights deal and is expected to be able to fetch upwards of $1 billion per year. Adding the Southern California media market to its product would only make the league’s offerings more desirable at just the right time.
It is not known whether the schools would be joining the Big Ten in all sports, only in football, or just in football and men’s basketball.
In August of 2021, the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC formed an alliance to “protect the collegiate model,” in a promise not to poach each other’s schools. But that alliance has apparently blown up.
Where this leaves Utah, which has won the Pac-12 South three of the past four seasons in football and advanced to its first Rose Bowl last season, is yet to be known.
Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff has yet to comment on the news. The Pac-12 was set to negotiate new media rights later this year.
The Pac-12 could add other schools from the Mountain West Conference, or dissolve and have the remaining teams go its separate ways.
There is speculation the Big Ten could try to add Oregon and Washington as well.
UCLA and USC coming east would be the latest move in major conference realignment, which began when Texas and Oklahoma announced they would leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2025, bringing the SEC to 16 members. Since then, the Big 12 added four schools that hadn’t been part of a major conference and some smaller conferences adjusted ranks, but this would be the first time since then that schools from a major league have left to join another one.
The Pac-12 has not had any membership changes since 2011. If it adds USC and UCLA, the Big Ten would then have 16 schools in the conference.
Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, Utah is 4-7 against USC in football, including its first ever win at the Coliseum this past season, 42-26. The Utes are 7-3 against UCLA in football, having won four straight against the Bruins.