In a “bold and ambitious move”, the Big Ten expanded to 16 with the addition of USC, UCLA | Football

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EVAN BLAND Omaha World-Herald

The University of Southern California and UCLA are officially set to join the Big Ten Conference starting in the 2024-2025 season in what is arguably the biggest seismic and historic shift in the ever-changing landscape of college athletics.

The shocking news played out publicly for about seven hours Thursday, as the two flagship schools of the Pac-12 Conference went from declaring interest in changing leagues to formally recognizing each school and league as their future destinations by the end of the business day on the West Coast.

UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet, 24, throws in a touchdown ball as Southern California defenseman Jacob Lichtenstein, 97, tries to stop him in the team’s second half in 2021.

Photo from the Associated Press file

The G10 Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to accept membership applications from every school Thursday night. And while the news sent shockwaves through college sports, national reports indicated – and the Big Ten confirmed – the move was being worked out behind the scenes over the course of weeks.

One source told The Athletic that two weeks ago each school was asked to conduct a feasibility study on adding USC and UCLA.

The reaction appears to have been positive.

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Now the Big Ten are joining the SEC as a 16-team league, with only a truly national presence from the Jersey Shore to Malibu Beach. Schools in Los Angeles will take part in all of the Big Ten sports when they become full members on August 2, 2024.

“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports,” USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn said in a press release. “We are pleased that our values ​​are aligned with the league’s member institutions. “.

USC and UCLA reportedly approached the Big Ten with a desire to join and be the league’s first new schools since Rutgers and Maryland were added to them in 2014 and Nebraska in 2011 in the early stages of a conference reorganization. The move is also seen as a response to the SEC’s exclusion of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 conference last summer, and another move for the SEC and the Big Ten to separate financially and in total membership from everyone else, including their other top five. peers.

These additions also likely explain why the Big Ten have yet to announce their plan to keep or eliminate football divisions, while other leagues, including Pac-12 and the ACC, have already abandoned them.

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Meanwhile, the conference is still in the midst of negotiations for a television rights deal with Fox and others, and previous estimates indicate it will receive more than $1 billion in the next round of contracts. This figure is guaranteed to grow even more with the addition of another major media market in Los Angeles and two well-known universities. According to a report by the Sports Business Journal, Apple has already asked to resume negotiations.

Such financial stability will be a boon for beginners. In January, the LA Times reported that the UCLA Athletic Department covered a $62.5 million loss for fiscal year 2021.

“While this move increases distances for teams, the resources offered by Big Ten membership can provide more efficient transportation options,” UCLA President Gene Block and Athletic Director Martin Jarmond said in a statement.

In theory, the transition could be relatively smooth for USC and UCLA, as their grant of rights is tied to the current Pac-12 television agreement, which expires after the 2023–24 school year.

Numerous reports have also indicated that the expansion of the Big Ten may not have been completed yet. Will remaining Pac-12 members like Washington and Oregon be a league change opportunity? What about the other participants in that conference, like Stanford?

Notre Dame – longtime siren of the Big Ten – could be back in the game to join the football conference. The Irish and their contract with NBC runs through at least 2025 in a deal reportedly worth $15 million a year. If NBC becomes part of a new Big Ten media rights deal in the future, it could potentially help bridge the long distance between the league and the school.

“It’s really unbearable to be independent right now,” a source told ESPN.

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The two Pac-12 additions are themselves watersheds in the 126-year history of the Big Ten, originally known as the Western Intercollegiate Conference, and are causing ripple effects throughout the league.

For Nebraska, the decision moves it from the western boundary of the conference to the geographic center. The Husker administration released a statement Thursday night welcoming the Bruins and Trojans.

“This is an exciting and historic day for the G10 conference and the University of Nebraska,” Chancellor Ronnie Green and athletic director Trev Alberts said in a joint statement. a step at a time of historic change in collegiate athletics. These institutions will add two world-class sports departments and brands to the Big Ten and stretch the Conference’s footprint from coast to coast.”

The statement also cited NU’s large base of alumni in California who can watch the games and his history of successful recruitment in the state.

“For the University of Nebraska, this expansion will bring many positive results,” the statement said. “UNL has a large alumni base in California who will have a great opportunity to regularly watch our teams compete at the historic sports venues in Southern California. Nebraska has a successful history of recruiting athletes from California, and this will only increase Nebraska’s profile as a fertile recruiting ground. We welcome UCLA and USC to the Big Ten Conference and look forward to competing with them in the future.”

The further course of Pac-12 remains unclear. He may try to add current or future members of the Big 12, including BYU, or he may try to stay on the sidelines. The conference was part of the so-called “Alliance” with the “Big Ten” and the ACC last year.

This partnership, for all intents and purposes, is now ending.

Pac-12 said: “While we are extremely surprised and disappointed by the news coming in today from UCLA and USC, we have a long and storied history in athletics, academia and leadership in supporting student athletes, which we are confident will continue to thrive and grow in the future.”

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