In a surprising and seismic turnaround in college athletics, the Big Ten voted Thursday to add Southern California and UCLA as conference members beginning in 2024.
The expansion to 16 teams will come after Pac-12’s current media rights contracts with Fox and ESPN expire and make the Big Ten the first convention to stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The announcement, which caught the Pac-12 off guard, came nearly a year after Oklahoma and Texas officially accepted invitations to the Southeast Conference in July 2025.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said USC and UCLA, both members of the Pac-12 and its predecessors for nearly a century, have applied for membership and the Council of Presidents and The prime minister of the coalition voted unanimously to add schools in Los Angeles.
“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we enter the new world of college sports,” said USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn. “We are delighted that our values align with the league’s member organizations. We will also benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; sporting stature of the Big Ten organizations; the increased visibility, exposure and resources that the conference will bring to our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni across the country. “
The Big Ten is building on an earlier expansion into the nation’s largest media markets, and the move allows the conference to catch up with the SEC as one of the most powerful organizations in sports. University.
The Big Ten will get blueblood programming on football (USC) and basketball (UCLA) and major brands will enhance the value of the conference’s new media rights package currently being negotiated.
The loss of top schools like USC and UCLA is a blow to the Pac-12, which already enjoys a friendly and long relationship with the Big Ten, best exemplified by the Rose Bowl partnership.
“While we are deeply surprised and disappointed by today’s news about UCLA and USC, we have a long and solid history in sports, academia, and leadership in supporting student-athletes that we are confident will continue to grow and develop into the Pac-12,” said in a statement.
The next move for the Pac-12 is unclear, but adding schools to replace USC and UCLA is a possibility.
“We look forward to partnering with current and potential members to jointly pioneer the future of college athletics,” Pac-12 said.
The Big Ten has expanded twice in recent years, with Nebraska joining in 2011 and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.
USC and UCLA match the Big Ten’s academic profile. Both schools are among the 65 members of the Association of American Universities, which is made up of leading research universities. All Big Ten schools except Nebraska are members.
“From increased exposure and a broader national platform for our student-athletes, to enhanced resources for our teams,” said UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond. This move will help preserve the legacy of UCLA Athletics for generations to come.”
“We value our membership in Pac-12 and we have great respect for the convention and our other member organizations, but each school faces its own unique challenges and circumstances. . We believe this is the right move for UCLA at the right time.”
USC and UCLA will significantly increase their revenue. Pac-12 distributed just $19.8 million per school in fiscal year 2021, by far the least of any Power 5 conference. The Big Ten’s per-school distribution is 46.1 million dollars, second only to the SEC’s $54.6 million.
Pac-12 has trouble keeping track of its video conferencing network while the Big Ten Network is the most established of the conferencing networks.
USC and UCLA will take a step forward in football, both in terms of visibility and competition.
The “Pac-12 After Dark” televised matches that began mid-to-late evening in most countries made contact with the conference difficult. The Pac-12 has had teams in the College Rugby Round only twice – Oregon (2014 season) and Washington (2016).
USC President Carol L. Folt said she and university leaders considered the coast-to-coast travel that would come with competing in the Big Ten. Nebraska is the westernmost campus of the current convention, and Lincoln is nearly 1,500 miles from Los Angeles. Rutgers, the easternmost Big Ten school, is almost a 5 1/2 hour flight from LA.
“We are fortunate to be able to spend the next two years working with the conference on travel plans and scheduling,” says Folt.
The Big Ten, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast Conference last August formed an alliance after Oklahoma and Texas joined the SEC. The conference said 41 members will take a collaborative approach to charting the future of athletics. The three conferences have established arrangements in a number of sports and have pooled resources to promote athlete welfare.
Less than a year later, the future of the alliance looks bleak with the Big Ten taking over two of the Pac-12’s biggest franchises.
USC and UCLA will sever longstanding convention relationships. USC joined California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State in the Pacific Coast Conference in 1922, followed by UCLA in 1928.
In 1959, they joined the Western Collegiate Athletic Association, which became the Pac-8 in 1968, the Pac-10 in 1978, and the Pac-12 in 2011.