USC, UCLA to the Big Ten? Schools plan to move from Pac-12 to Big Ten as early as 2024, sources say

USC and UCLA, two of Pac-12’s flagship programs, are planning to leave the convention to join the Big Ten as early as 2024, and a move is seen as imminent, sources confirm with ESPN on Thursday.

The Mercury News first reported it.

There is still a formal notification process, as the two schools must let Pac-12 know of their intention to leave. USC and UCLA must also formally apply for the Big Ten. That process is underway, according to one source.

Multiple sources told ESPN on Thursday that the move is expected to happen. One source called the next steps “procedural” and an announcement could be made within the next 24 hours.

A source said the financial probe and what was needed to make the move have been going on for weeks. While finance plays a big role in the move, the sport’s competitiveness, brand and future landscape play a bigger role.

“USC and UCLA have to make decisions to position them best in the long-term,” a source familiar with the move told ESPN. “The future is uncertain, we need to operate from a position of strength.”

The reason why this move will be less disruptive than potential moves in the ACC is that both USC and UCLA grant the rights to stick with the current Pac-12 television contract, which expires after the 2023 football season and the 2023-24 school year. Therefore, it is expected that both schools can participate in the 2024-25 national championship without incurring any financial penalties.

Pac-12 officials have been urging both Los Angeles schools for years to renew the granting authority. The fact that they didn’t, implies that they have bigger ambitions.

“We just had Sooner’d and Horn’d,” a senior college official at one of the Pac-12 schools told ESPN, referring to last year’s decision by Texas and Oklahoma to leave the Big 12 convention. for the SEC. .

The financial pressures felt by the Pac-12 are similar to those in the ACC and beyond, as conference revenue forecasts — which can vary and are not always linear — prompt the SEC and Big Ten to do. nearly double some of the other Power 5 tournaments by the end of the decade. Those financial pressures leave USC and UCLA with the choice of bullying the Pac-12 for an unequal revenue share or going elsewhere and getting a seat at the table in the long run. The financial impact not only allows them to remain nationally competitive in football, but can also maintain support for all sports, including women’s and non-revenue sports.

“With Texas and Oklahoma going to join the SEC, it’s clear that for those schools there is only one option,” said the source familiar with the move.

It will be interesting to see how this affects Fox’s upcoming TV deal with the Big Ten, which is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. The addition of these two schools brings both the West Coast and one of the country’s most lucrative media markets.

The move is troubling the future of the Pac-12, as Fox investing more in UCLA and USC inventories in the Big Ten means anyone investing in the Pac-12, which Fox has long owned. partially owned, will be significantly reduced. The move leaves the league with Oregon and Washington as its top schools after losing two of its biggest brands.

“I’ve always been of the opinion that UCLA can’t leave Cal,” a Pac-12 source told ESPN. “There is no political state more than that or more systematic. That is very surprising.”

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff was not available for comment immediately.

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