In the ever-changing landscape of college sports, the Big Ten aims to make another seismic shift by negotiating with the University of Southern California and UCLA to join the conference.
The San Jose Mercury News first reported Thursday that USC and UCLA plan to exit the Pacific-12 conference as early as 2024. The move is unofficial, according to the report, and needs to be approved at the highest level. level in both schools and in the Big Ten.
Multiple reports said the move should be approved and an announcement is expected within the next 24 hours.
The addition of USC and UCLA would give members of the Big Ten 16, the conference footprint stretching from Piscataway, NJ, across the country to Los Angeles. The potential move comes nearly a year after news broke that Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the Big 12 Conference to join the Southeastern Conference no later than 2025.
Sports Illustrated reported that USC and UCLA expressed interest in switching conferences several months ago and approached the Big Ten.
The Gophers athletic department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Big Ten is no stranger to expansion, and its addition of Penn State in 1990 started a series of conference realignments. In 2011, the Big Ten expanded to 12 teams with the addition of Nebraska, which left the Big 12. Two years later, Maryland left the Atlantic Coast Conference and Rutgers left the Big East to become the 13th in the Big Ten.e and 14e members.
The news comes as the Big Ten are in negotiations for their next media rights deal, with the current deal expiring after the 2022-23 school year. A new deal is expected to cost $1 billion or more per season. The current media rights deal, which began in 2017, was for $2.65 billion over six years.
The Mercury News report didn’t say whether the potential addition of the Trojans and Bruins to the Big Ten would affect all sports. UCLA has varsity teams in 10 men’s sports and 13 women’s sports, while USC sponsors nine men’s sports and 12 women’s sports.
The loss of USC and UCLA would leave the Pac-12 with 10 teams — and none in its main media center of Los Angeles.
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