In One Day, Pac-12 Goes From 9 Schools to 4

Big Ten, Big 12 add members in major realignment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 5, 2023 2:50 PM CDT
In One Day, Pac-12 Goes From 9 Schools to 4
The Pac-12 logo is shown at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, in 2019.   (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

Dealing a crushing combination to the Pac-12, the Big Ten has announced that Oregon and Washington will be joining the conference next August, and the Big 12 completed its raid of the beleaguered league by adding Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah. The Pac-12 began Friday with hope and nine members. The day ended with the Pac-12—which has roots that date back a century and more NCAA championships than any other—down to four schools and facing extinction because it was unable to land a media rights agreement to match its competitors, the AP reports.

"Today's news is incredibly disappointing for student-athletes, fans, alumni and staff of the Pac-12 who cherish the over 100-year history, tradition and rivalries of the Conference of Champions," a conference statement said. "We remain focused on securing the best possible future for each of our member universities." The super-conference era has arrived in college sports, and it has swallowed the Pac-12—the conference the produced Jackie Robinson, John Elway, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Barry Bonds. After the Big Ten paved the way Friday morning for the Pacific Northwest rivals to join, the Oregon was first to make it official with a unanimous vote by the school's 13 trustees. The Big Ten a short time later said its presidents' council had voted to accept Oregon and Washington and become an 18-team, coast-to-coast conference, with four West Coast members.

The Big 12, meanwhile, had three more Pac-12 schools in its sights, a week after luring Colorado. Arizona's entry was approved Thursday night, but the Big 12's long-brewing expansion plan was far from complete. Once it became apparent on Friday that Oregon and Washington were leaving the Pac-12, Arizona State and Utah didn't have much choice but to jump, too. The Big 12 will be a 16-team conference, spanning from Florida to Arizona, in the fall of 2024. Beyond this school year, the Pac-12 is down to Stanford, California, Oregon State, and Washington State. The Big Ten's latest grab from its Rose Bowl partners comes a little more than a year after it landed Southern California and UCLA. The Big Ten will be the largest conference in major college sports, spanning 15 states from New Jersey to Washington.

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Under the realignment, Oregon's and Washington's closest new conference neighbor—not including the Los Angeles schools—will be the University of Nebraska, more than a 1,600-mile drive away. The Ducks and Huskies will receive a reduced payout compared to current Big Ten members and to USC and UCLA, which are projected to receive more than $60 million each in media rights revenue from the league starting next year. Washington and Oregon were charter members of the Pacific Coast Conference in 1916, the organization that eventually became the Pac-8, then 10, then 12. In assessing the winners and losers in the realignment, CBS Sports suggests a major casualty in West Coast athletics in general, saying it's an ominous sign for the future of non-revenue sports.

(More college sports stories.)

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