Pac-12 announces it will explore expansion options in wake of USC, UCLA departures
The Pac-12 announced on Friday that it has been authorized by the league’s Board of Directors to “explore all expansion options.”
On Thursday, USC and UCLA announced plans to exit the Pac-12 in August 2024 when the league’s current media rights deal expires and join the Big Ten. That news proved seismic throughout the sport, and it was met with a somewhat tepid response from the Pac-12, which said it was “extremely surprised and disappointed” by the decision but offered little else.
A statement Friday offered more of a plan: the league will look to add to what it has.
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) July 1, 2022
Oregon and Washington have reportedly been told the Big Ten is standing pat for now, at least until Notre Dame reaches a decision on whether or not to join the conference. In the interim, the Pac-12 will seemingly look to sweeten the pot for its biggest remaining brands to stay with the league moving forward.
The league is in a tough spot, though, as it tries to attract new teams. Among the issues it will face trying to convince others to join the fold, the Pac-12 will have to address concerns it doesn’t have a TV partner in place for the longterm, its central hub (Los Angeles) is leaving in two years, and it seems to have lukewarm (at best) commitment from other members of the league—if Oregon and Washington were told no, it means they had to ask.
Would Big 12 programs like Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and TCU be interested in joining? Would additions like Boise State and San Diego State move the needle at all in terms of media value?
A year ago, the Big 12 met with the Pac-12 about a potential merger. The Big 12 had just learned it would soon lose Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC and was seemingly seeking a lifeline. The Pac-12 wasn’t interested. Might those two sides revisit the discussion now? Things would certainly look different given the Big 12 was able to bring aboard UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, and BYU to stabilize itself.
Would the Big 12 have interest in merging if it could just add Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado outright? Something it reportedly wants to do.
What happens next will be fascinating.