USC and UCLA are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, the schools and conference announced Thursday.
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News first reported the universities were in talks of joining the Big Ten.
The move, slated for Aug. 2, 2024 for the two Los Angeles-based universities, comes on the heels of Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. It is the latest shakeup in the world of college athletics, which has been undergoing a massive transformation in the past few years. Texas and Oklahoma will officially join the SEC no later than 2025. The departures of Texas and Oklahoma spurred the Big 12 to add BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. Those schools will officially become Big 12 members in July 2023.
In addition to prominent schools switching conferences, the one-time transfer rule passed and name, image and likeness (NIL) payments are now permitted for athletes.
"Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports," USC athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. "We are excited that our values align with the league's member institutions."
The loss of USC and UCLA is a massive blow for the Pac-12, and it further distances the Big Ten and SEC from the rest of the FBS conferences, particularly on a financial level.
The Big Ten is currently negotiating its next media rights deal, which could be worth billions. The league's existing deals with ESPN and Fox run through the 2022-23 academic year.
The Pac-12 distributed $344 million among its members in the 2021 fiscal year. For the Big Ten, it was $680 million.
The Los Angeles media market is one of the largest in the country and the USC and UCLA brands are attractive ones for viewers. With USC and UCLA in the fold, the Big Ten would extend its traditionally Midwest reach to the West Coast.
For our fans, Big Ten membership equates to better television time slots for our road games, but the same number of home games either at the Rose Bowl, in Pauley Pavilion or other UCLA venues. We will make efforts to preserve our traditional regional rivalries and are pleased that our crosstown rival, USC, will also be joining the Big Ten in 2024–25. While we are fierce competitors on the field, we have a rich tradition of collaboration that we look forward to continuing.
USC and UCLA brings the Big Ten to 16 members, the same number that the SEC will have once Texas and Oklahoma officially join the league. And according to USA Today, the Big Ten could look to expand even further.
How will the Pac-12 respond? The conference added Colorado and Utah in 2011 and has had consistent membership since. But the Pac-12 has not had a team reach the College Football Playoff since Washington in 2016.