Sources: Oregon, Washington to Join Big Ten, Leave Pac-12
Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images and Alika Jenner/Getty Images. Pictured: Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (left) and Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
The Big Ten is getting even bigger with Oregon and Washington becoming the latest schools to join the conference from the Pac-12 starting in 2024, sources told Action Network.
The departure of the Ducks and Huskies increases the number of schools leaving the Pac-12 in the past 13 months to five (UO, UW, Colorado, USC and UCLA) and could be the fatal blow to the Pac-12.
The Big Ten will grow to 18 members, the largest in college football history, and must decide whether to expand even further. The Big Ten is contemplating whether to stand at 18 or consider adding Stanford and Cal, or possibly any ACC schools that may leave, sources said.
Oregon and Washington will not immediately receive full shares in the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, CBS and NBC but will still make more than they would have by remaining in the Pac-12, sources said.
With additional schools leaving the Pac-12, the Mountain West would “be open” to adding remaining Pac-12 schools to the league, sources told Action Network.
The Mountain West currently has a linear television deal with FOX and CBS Sports Network with additional games on CBS through the 2025 season. Another possibility for the Mountain West, depending on how many schools are remaining in the Pac-12, could be a merger of some type between the two leagues, a source said.
Last August, Action Network reported Oregon and Washington met with Big Ten officials about potential membership. Oregon met with Big Ten officials in Chicago, while Washington met with Big Ten officials in New York, sources said.
Both schools had been “vetted and cleared” to join the Big Ten for more than a year if the financial details could be worked out between the schools, the Big Ten and the Big Ten’s television partners.
“There was no more research or information needed on Oregon and Washington,” Big Ten sources said Thursday. “We have everything we need.”
When former commissioner Kevin Warren left to become president and CEO of the Chicago Bears, the Big Ten momentarily paused the pursuit of any additional members. Even last month, new commissioner Tony Petitti said his direction from the Big Ten presidents was not to expand but to focus on the addition of USC and UCLA in 2024.
That quickly changed when Colorado left for the Big 12.
Even though the Big Ten started the Pac-12’s downfall by grabbing USC and UCLA last year, the league did not want “the Pac-12’s blood on its hands” by taking Oregon and Washington before any other members left, sources said.
However, with the departures of Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado, the Big Ten saw the opportunity to add the Ducks and Huskies without paying them full media shares since the Pac-12 is in “disarray,” sources said.
The Big Ten now must decide whether to stay at 18 schools or expand further. The league’s options are adding Stanford and Cal or waiting to see if any schools become available from the ACC, such as Florida State, Clemson, Miami or North Carolina.
Notre Dame is the Big Ten’s top expansion candidate, but the Irish have given no indication they want to give up their independent status.
Last week, Florida State’s president Richard McCullough and the school’s trustees were clear their days in the ACC were limited.
“We are not satisfied with our current situation,” McCullough said in the Board of Trustees meeting. “We love the ACC. Our goal is to stay in the ACC, but to stay in the ACC under the current (media rights) situation is hard for us to figure out how we remain competitive unless there is a major change in revenue distribution within the ACC.”
Added FSU trustee Drew Weatherford: “It's not a matter of if we leave (the ACC), but how and when we leave.”