Saturday, August 20, 2022

Pac-12 exploring expansion options as Big Ten informs Oregon, Washington it’s standing pat for now

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Utah
USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 will “explore all expansion options” as it tries to regroup following the sudden and startling news that USC and UCLA would be leaving in favor of the Big Ten in 2024. With college athletics’ landscape once again in a state of upheaval, all options are on the table as the Power Five’s West Coast league looks to stay afloat in whatever way possible moving forward. 

“The Pac-12 Board of Directors met this morning and authorized the conference to explore all expansion options,” said a conference statement released on Friday. “The 10 university presidents and chancellors remain committed to a shared mission of academic and athletic excellence on behalf of our student-athletes.”

Expansion may suddenly be on the radar for the Pac-12, but keeping its remaining membership intact is also a priority. Oregon and Washington, two other Pac-12 brands that could potentially bail, reached out to the Big Ten to gauge its interest, according to CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd, but were told that the conference is standing pat for now

Of course, all things related to conference realignment are fluid. Plans could change rapidly after USC and UCLA’s departure sent presidents and athletic directors all across college athletics scrambling to figure out where to go from here. 

The move by the Trojans and Bruins signaled a massive shift in the landscape of college athletics. Texas and Oklahoma’s decision to move to the SEC last summer was a massive coup for SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, but the Big Ten is the first Power Five conference to make a concerted effort to have a footprint from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 

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