Two legendary powerhouse athletic programs are reported to be leaving the Pac-12 conference and joining the Big 10.
USC and UCLA are reportedly readying an exit that would be implemented as early as 2024, as first reported by Jon Wilner of the Mercury News. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman confirmed much of Wilner’s report; a source told Brett McMurphy of Action Network, “It’s not official yet, but I’d put it at 90 percent.”
ESPN reported that the formal announcement could come in the next 24 hours.
“We just got Sooner’d and Horn’d,” mourned a high-ranking university official at another Pac-12 university in reference to Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 conference for the SEC last year.
The two schools have to complete the formal notification process and must apply to the Big Ten, and a source informed ESPN that the process has already been initiated.
“The biggest obstacle in such a move had long been UCLA leaving behind Cal because it meant breaking away from UC system, per sources,” Pete Thamel, college football senior writer for ESPN noted. “ One Pac-12 source said they were ‘stunned’ UCLA would make that move.”
“I was always of the opinion that UCLA couldn’t leave Cal,” a Pac-12 source opined. “There’s no more political state than that or system than that. That was very surprising.”
“USC and UCLA have grant of rights that are tied to the current Pac-12 television contract, which expires after the 2023 football season and 2023-24 school year,” ESPN noted. Thus the schools could enter the Big 10 for the 2024-25 season while suffering no financial penalties.
“USA Today‘s Steve Berkowitz also wrote in May how the most recent payouts to the Pac-12 member schools, which fell from $33.6 million in 2020 to $19.8 million in 2021, ‘were the lowest among the Power Five by a significant margin,’” Bleacher Report noted.
Conference revenue projections for later in the decade estimate the SEC and Big Ten reaping roughly double of certain other Power 5 leagues. “Those financial pressures left USC and UCLA with the choice of bullying the Pac-12 for unequal revenue shares or going elsewhere and having a seat at the table for the long-term,” ESPN noted.
USC has won the Pac-10 football championship a whopping 37 times; UCLA and Washington are tied for second with 17 championships. UCLA has won 11 college basketball national championships, the most of any university.