Pac-12 will not seek expansion ‘at this time,’ conference says

Aug 26, 2021, 12:07 PM

The Pac-12 Conference announced Thursday that it will not seek to expand in the near future.

“Following consultation with our Presidents, Chancellors and Athletic Directors, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to not pursue expansion of our membership at this time,” the league said in a statement.

“This decision was made following extensive internal discussion and analysis, and is based on the current competitive strength and cohesiveness of our 12 universities. It is also grounded in our confidence in our ability as a conference to best support our student-athletes and to grow and thrive both academically and athletically.”

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said that the conference began exploring the possibility of adding new member universities earlier in August after the SEC added Texas and Oklahoma, two schools that will leave the Big 12 in 2025.

Expansion possibilities strengthened when the Big 12 and its eight remaining schools were left out of the alliance between the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC, plus the fact of Texas and Oklahoma being co-founders of the Big 12.

The Pac-12’s 16 years without a football national title and 24 years without a men’s basketball national title has widened the competitive gap between the Pac-12 and the rest of the Power Five. The conference hasn’t been represented in the College Football Playoff since 2016.

The Pac-12 Network also has been struggling to stay afloat. The network lost 17% of its subscribers last year alone, and it now has 14.8 million subscribers compared to the Big Ten’s and SEC’s more than 50 million subscribers, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Kliavkoff, who replaced former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in June, addressed potential expansion in late July by saying it was not a necessary move for his conference.

“… We believe the move by Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 to the SEC strengthens our unique position as the only Power Five conference with teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones,” he said. “Given our investments in football and men’s basketball, our historic domination of other sports, we do not think expansion is required to continue to compete and thrive.”

The Pac-12 in its history previously went by the Big Five, Big Six, Pacific-8 and Pacific-10 before Colorado and Utah were added to make it the Pac-12 in 2011.

The conference, initially established in 1912, added the University of Arizona and Arizona State University in 1978 to become the Pac-10.

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