The Big Ten builds on previous expansion into the nation’s largest media markets, and the move allows the conference to keep pace with the SEC as one of the most powerful entities in college sports.
The Big Ten has expanded twice in recent years, with Nebraska joining in 2011 and Maryland and Rutgers joining in 2014.
USC and UCLA fit the Big Ten’s academic profile. Both schools are among the 65 members of the Association of American Universities, which consists of top research universities. All Big Ten schools except Nebraska are members.
“Pac12 has always shared our values and continues to innovate, working hard on behalf of student athletes and their many fans,” said Martin Garmond, UCLA athletic director. “At the same time, each school faces its own unique challenges and circumstances, and we believe this is UCLA’s best move at this time. For us, this move provides greater certainty in rapidly changing times and ensures that we remain leaders in athletics university for future generations.
Moving to the Big Ten would greatly boost USC and UCLA revenue.
The Pac-12 distributed only $19.8 million to each school in fiscal year 2021, which is by far the lowest among the Power 5 conferences. The Big Ten distributed per school $46.1 million, second only to SEC’s $54.6 million.
Pac-12 has had a hard time not keeping track of its own conferencing television network while Big Ten Network is the most well known conferencing network.
USC and UCLA will take a step forward in football, both in vision and competition.
The televised “Pac-12 After Dark” games that run mid-to-late evening across much of the country made it difficult for the conference to get a show. The Pac-12 has had teams in College Football Playoff only twice – Oregon (2014 season) and Washington (2016).
Losing major schools like USC and UCLA would be a huge blow to the Pac-12, which has had a long and friendly relationship with the Big Ten that is best illustrated by the Rose Bowl partnership.
The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference last August formed an alliance in the wake of Oklahoma and Texas joining the Securities and Exchange Commission. The conferences said the 41 members will take a collaborative approach to charting the future of athletics. The three conferences established scheduling arrangements in some sports and pooled resources to enhance the well-being of athletes.
Less than a year later, the future of the alliance will look uncertain if the Big Ten takes over two of the Pac-12’s biggest brands.
USC and UCLA would sever century-old conference ties.
USC joined California, Oregon, Oregon, Stanford, Washington, and Washington in the Pacific Coast Conference in 1922, followed by the University of California at Los Angeles in 1928. Together in 1959 they joined the Western Universities Athletic Association, which merged at PAC 8 in 1968 The Pac-10 in 1978 and the Pac-12 in 2011.