UCLA and USC will both leave the Pac-12 Conference in 2024, announcing Thursday they will join the Big Ten Conference in a move that sent shock waves across the world of collegiate athletics.
The shift is a major blow for the “Conference of Champions,” robbing the Pac-12 of its two premiere athletics programs.
It is not clear what the change will mean for the Rose Bowl Game. Tournament of Roses Association officials declined to comment when asked Thursday by Pasadena Now.
The Big Ten is currently negotiating its next media rights deal which is expected to be worth more than $1 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times. By contrast, the Pac-12 distributed just $344 million among its member schools for the 2021 fiscal year.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Athletics Director Martin Jarmond issued a joint statement saying the move was “guided by what is best for our student-athletes.”
“As the oldest NCAA Division I athletic conference in the United States and with a footprint that will now extend from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Big Ten membership offers Bruins exciting new competitive opportunities and a broader national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talents,” they said. “Specifically, this move will enhance Name, Image and Likeness opportunities through greater exposure for our student-athletes and offer new partnerships with entities across the country.
“Entry into the Big Ten will also help ensure that UCLA preserves and maintains all 25 current teams and more than 700 student-athletes in our program,” they said. “Additionally, it means enhanced resources for all of our teams, from academic support to mental health and wellness. And although this move increases travel distances for teams, the resources offered by Big Ten membership may allow for more efficient transportation options. We would also explore scheduling accommodations with the Big Ten that best support our student-athletes’ academic pursuits.”
The leaders of the Big Ten Conference voted Thursday to accept the two schools, effective Aug. 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 statement. “We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will 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 our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.”
There was no immediate response from the Pac-12 Conference. The move cuts the conference to 10 teams, pending any future realignment.
The announcement rivals the one made last year by Oklahoma and Texas, which announced their departures from the Big 12 Conference in favor of the SEC.