It’s been a wild day in the world of college sports and, specifically the worlds of the Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences. Two iconic Pac-12 Los Angeles schools, USC and UCLA, announced Thursday that they are leaving the conference and joining the Big Ten in 2024.
To say that the news moved quickly would be an understatement. Word broke early Thursday that the schools were considering the move, which gained steam quickly as word spread, the Big Ten unanimously voted to accept them as members by the afternoon, and then both schools made their official announcements around 4:40 p.m. PST.
Turns out, there was a very logical reason why this all had to happen today, June 30.
Why today for this? Because June 30 marks the last day USC and UCLA could inform the Pac-12 they intend on leaving the conference if they want to avoid potential additional financial penalties, sources tell @CBSSports. The active Pac-12 grant of rights expires on June 30, 2024.
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) June 30, 2022
USC was just barely first with their tweet.
OFFICIAL: USC will join the Big Ten Conference in 2024.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) June 30, 2022
“Over the past three years, we have worked hard to ground our university decisions in what is best for our students,” said USC President Carol L. Folt in the announcement. “With the Big Ten, we are joining a storied conference that shares our commitment to academic excellence and athletic competitiveness, and we are positioning USC and our student-athletes for long-term success and stability amidst the rapidly evolving sports media and collegiate athletics landscapes. We are delighted to begin this new chapter in 2024.”
“We intend to end our membership in the Pac-12 conference when the Pac-12’s current media rights agreement expires in August 2024,” said USC AD Mike Bohn. “We look forward to competing these next two years in the Pac-12 and want to express our sincerest gratitude to the conference and its member institutions for decades of wonderful experiences. The Trojans’ outstanding athletics heritage will always be synonymous with the Pac-12, and there are so many iconic moments and memories we will cherish forever. We hold the Pac-12 and our respected colleagues in the highest regard.”
A couple of minutes later, UCLA tweeted out its own announcement.
𝗕𝗜𝗚 news! UCLA is joining the Big Ten Conference at the start of the 2024-25 season! 👀
— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) June 30, 2022
“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,” said a statement from UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond. “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.”
The idea that two Los Angeles schools will now be part of a conference that is best known for its Midwestern footprint, not to mention that they’ll be part of the same conference as schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, might seem absolutely absurd. But then again, just about everything about college sports, especially college football, is absurd.