Pac-12 rivals USC and UCLA ‘are planning to defect to the Big Ten in 2024’ in a major NCAA shakeup
- College sports powerhouses USC and UCLA are reportedly preparing to defect from the Pac-12 conference to the Big Ten in what would be a major shakeup
- Such a move would cost the Pac-12 its foothold in LA and two of its top programs
- Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has yet to address the issue publicly as talks are reportedly ongoing. The move would reportedly occur sometime in 2024
- Although UCLA is traditionally a basketball school, any move to the Big Ten would center on football – the most profitable in the college sports hierarchy
- The Big Ten’s reported overtures to UCLA and USC come after the Southeastern Conference successfully lured Oklahoma and Texas away from the Big-12
- A final decision could be reached this week, according to Sports Illustrated, which also reports the schools expressed interest in the Big Ten months ago
Two collegiate sports powerhouses are preparing to defect from the Pac-12 and join the Big Ten in the latest shakeup to the NCAA’s competitive landscape.
As multiple outlets reported Thursday, Los Angeles-area rivals USC and UCLA are in talks to join Big Ten after decades in the Pac-12 (née: Big Five, Big Six, Pacific-8, and Pacific-10). Not only would the move deprive the 107-year-old conference of two of its most prestigious athletic departments, but it would also cost the Pac-12 its foothold in the lucrative Southern California media market.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has yet to address the issue publicly as talks are reportedly ongoing.
SC wide receiver That Washington, right, UCLA defensive back Cameron Johnson deflect a pass in the first quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on November 21. As multiple outlets reported Thursday, Los Angeles-area rivals USC and UCLA are in talks to join Big Ten after decades in the Pac-12 for the 2024 season, although the deal isn’t yet finalized
The move has not been finalized, according to syndicated sports reporter Jon Wilner, who also reports that the move could happen as early as 2024.
A final decision could be reached this week, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, who reports the schools expressed interest in the Big Ten months ago.
Although UCLA is primarily known as a basketball powerhouse, with 11 men’s NCAA titles, any move to the Big Ten would likely be due to football, which is the most profitable in the college sports hierarchy.
The Big Ten’s reported overtures to UCLA and USC come after the Southeastern Conference successfully lured Oklahoma and Texas away from the Big-12 for the 2025 season.
Following the reported news on Thursday, many experts speculated that the Big Ten’s acquisition of UCLA and USC could lead other major athletic powerhouses to defect to either that conference or the SEC.
‘Just got off the phone with someone who believes this eventually leads to two megaconferences — the Big Ten and SEC — with 20 or more members apiece,’ read a tweet from The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren (pictured) has yet to address the issue publicly
Emily Bessoir #11 of the UCLA Bruins guards Angel Jackson #15 of the USC Trojans under the basket in the game at Galen Center on December 13, 2020 in Los Angeles
By adding 11-time national football champion USC to a conference that already boasts Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State, the Big Ten would hope to compete with an SEC that is widely regarded as the toughest, most popular conference in college football.
Including the 2021 national champion Georgia Bulldogs, five of the last seven title winners have come from the SEC. Meanwhile, the Big Ten has won just one national championship in the last two decades: Ohio State’s 2014 title.
USC has been in the Pac-12 since 1922, while UCLA joined in 1928.
Collegiate athletic conferences once centered around geography and traditional rivalries back then. Now, though, with conferences operating their own cable networks while pulling in vast revenue from the wildly popular College Football Playoff, schools’ proximity to each other is no longer a concern.
For instance, the Big Ten started as a midwestern conference, but now includes east-coast schools like Rutgers and Maryland, as well as Nebraska.
Now student athletes at UCLA and USC could potentially be looking at cross-country road trips for in-conference competition if the Big Ten does approve the moves.
Tyger Campbell #10 of the UCLA Bruins brings the ball up the court against Drew Peterson #13 of the USC Trojans during the Pac-12 Conference basketball tournament semifinals at T-Mobile Arena on March 11