Until 1990, the Big Ten was a conveniently parked convention in the Midwest, with campuses from Columbus, Ohio, in the east to Minneapolis in the north and west.
Then came the conference’s further expansion across the country, sparked by the addition of Pennsylvania’s Big Ten in 1990. Nebraska joined the league in 2011, and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014, giving the conference an even larger footprint on the college athletics scene.
On Thursday night, that footprint suddenly spread across the country from Piscataway, New Jersey, to Los Angeles. The Big Ten announced on their network that USC and UCLA have been approved by the university to be the 15th and 16th members of the conference.
“USC and UCLA are two of the best and most competitive sports divisions in the country and their presence will enhance the entire conference.”
This seismic shift, first reported Thursday by San Jose Mercury News, will see the USC and UCLA exit the Pacific-12 Conference to become official members of the Big Ten on August 2, 2024, and the Big Ten begin play in the 2024-25 season. The top 10 presidents unanimously approved the move Thursday night. Both schools released news statements confirming these moves.
“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for athletics at USC and Trojan as we transition into a new world of team sports,” USC Athletics Director Mike Boone said in a statement. We are excited that our values align with our member league institutions. ”
“We recognize that these are significant changes,” the UCLA statement read. …the best way to respect that is to protect our software from the great uncertainty that it might face if we don’t make this transition.
The move comes nearly a year after news emerged that Oklahoma and Texas would leave the Big 12 Conference to join the Southeast Conference no later than 2025. The Big Ten responded to the SEC’s gambit, with both leagues looking to be the strongest conference in the country.
Sports Illustrated reported that USC and UCLA Expressed his desire to change conferences Several months ago he approached the Big Ten. Both schools are members of the Association of American Universities, a classification that has been historically important to membership in the Big Ten.
The news comes as the Big Ten is in negotiations for its next media rights contract, and the current contract expires after the 2022-23 school year. The new deal is expected to be worth $1 billion or more per season. The current media rights deal, which began in 2017, is $2.65 billion over six years. The addition of the Los Angeles market will enhance the Big Ten’s appeal for television ratings, and it is estimated that each school could get $100 million annually from the new rights deal.
Reports say that this step will include all sports except beach volleyball. UCLA has collegiate teams in 11 men’s sports and 14 women’s sports, while UCLA sponsors 10 men’s sports and 13 women’s sports.
Losing USC and UCLA will leave Pac-12 with 10 teams – And nothing in its main media center is in Los Angeles. The conference’s long-term viability is in question, and further movement could be made with the Big 12 teams as potential partners.
In a statement, Pac-12 said it was “extremely surprised and disappointed” by the move.
“The additions of USC and UCLA are fully consistent with the Big Ten’s academic and athletic culture,” University of Minnesota President Joanne Gabel said in a statement. Gophers Athletic Director Mark Coyle added, “USC and UCLA are the best and most competitive athletic departments in the nation and their presence will enhance the entire conference….This is an exciting day for the State of Minnesota, USC, UCLA, and Big Ten.”
So, what does adding USC and UCLA mean for Gopher?
First, the Gophers — and every other member of the convention — are likely to get more money from the media rights contract than they would without the extras. With USC and UCLA in the fold, the conference will have teams in five of the country’s seven largest television markets — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. — and the ability to push an even tougher deal.
Football then moves the move, and the Gophers will eventually have team games against two top teams. USC has won nine NCAA-recognized national championships and played in 34 Rose Bowls, more than any team. UCLA has one National Championship and 12 Rose Bowl appearances, including the January 1, 1962 game in which the Gophers beat the Bruins 21-3.
Minnesota have faced USC nine times, going 6-1-1, most recently with Gopher’s 32-21 loss in Minneapolis in 2010 and Gopher’s loss 19-17 in Los Angeles in 2011. Against the University of California, Gophers 2-1 all-time, with That Rose Bowl win and 27-13 home win in 1977 along with a 17-3 loss on the road in 1978.
For Gophers men’s basketball, the addition of USC and UCLA will lead to more access to the job market in Southern California, the area targeted by Ben Johnson and his staff. And of course, the UCLA team, which has scored 11 NCAA championships, will provide a marquee opponent. Additionally, USC has been on the rise, winning 20 or more games in six of the past seven seasons.
Both schools have athletic-only powers, with the Bruins winning 119 NCAA team championships and Trojans 111 in their history. Only Stanford has more than 131.
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