The two Southern California powerhouse universities, UCLA and USC, announced on Thursday that they are leaving the Pac-12 Conference for the Big Ten Conference at the start of the 2024-25 season, causing a seismic shift in collegiate athletics scene.
Thursday, both colleges issued separate announcements regarding their plans to transfer conferences. The Pac-12 expressed “great astonishment and disappointment” at the decision.
UCLA and USC Will Join the Big Ten Conference, Altering the Face of Collegiate Sports
They will join a conference alongside the University of Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State, forming a 16-member league to compete with the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
Less than one year ago, a similar move stunned the collegiate football world when the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma accepted invitations from the Big 12 to join the SEC.
According to USC, the Big Ten has voted to admit both schools beginning August 2, 2024.
The change has significant ramifications for prospective media rights contracts. USC says it will honor its current agreement with the Pac-12 until 2024.
USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said in a statement, “The Big Ten is the greatest home for USC and Trojan athletics as we go into the new world of collegiate sports.”
“We will also benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring to our student-athletes and programs; and the opportunity to broaden engagement with our passionate alumni across the country.”
UCLA’s statement referred to increasing Name, Image, and Likeness potential for players inside the conference. The NCAA allowed athletes to earn money by signing autographs and endorsement contracts last year.
“Big Ten participation provides the Bruins with intriguing new competition possibilities and a larger national media platform for our student-athletes to exhibit their talents.
Specifically, this change will improve Name, Image, and Likeness chances for our student-athletes by increasing their exposure, and it will create new collaborations with organizations around the nation “Gene Block and Martin Jarmond, chancellor and athletics director of UCLA, stated.
While noting an increase in travel time to away games, UCLA also emphasized “improved broadcast time slots for our road games.”
Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Rutgers are the current members of the Big Ten.
The Big Ten released a statement indicating that the conference overwhelmingly voted to accept both colleges’ membership petitions.
Commissioner Kevin Warren stated, “As the national leader in academics and athletics for over 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically examined its membership with the purpose of advancing the academic and athletic mission for student-athletes within the context of higher education.”
“I am appreciative of the collaborative work of our campus leadership, athletics directors, and Council of Presidents and Chancellors, who recognized the changing reality of college athletics, systematically assessed each request, and took action based on our consensus.”
The Pac-12 stated in its statement that it will “continue to thrive” despite the loss of the two schools.
Pac-12 Conference said in a statement, “We’ve long been regarded as the Conference of Champions, and we’re unshakeable in our determination to maintain that moniker.”
“We will continue to develop new and innovative programs that directly benefit our member institutions, and we look forward to collaborating with current and prospective members to shape the future of college athletics.”