Big Ten reportedly in talks of adding Pac-12’s Oregon, Washington, Cal, Stanford
Aug 2, 2023, 11:48 AM | Updated: 11:57 am
The Big Ten has held “exploratory” conversations about potentially expanding by potentially adding Pac-12 schools Oregon, Washington, Stanford and Cal, reports Yahoo!’s Dan Wetzel and The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach.
While early in the process, it is still unknown inside the Big Ten if it would add two teams or four — or any at all.
An expansion to 18 teams would include Oregon and Washington, while growing to 20 would include additions of the Bay Area schools.
The Big Ten is likely doing its diligence with the Pac-12 under pressure to finalize a new media contract and retain the nine committed members. Of those members, the Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils and Utah Utes are reportedly being targeted by the Big 12 after that conference last week earned a commitment from the Colorado Buffaloes to leave after the 2023-24 academic year.
If others follow Colorado, it will further disintegrate the conference that is already losing the Los Angeles schools, USC and UCLA. They are headed to the Big Ten after this coming season.
It has been reported before Wednesday that the Big Ten was satisfied with its additions and did not want to pursue more Pac-12 schools and be the reason for the other conference’s demise. However, the potential for more teams leaving the Pac-12 has at least made the Big Ten prepare for a complete Pac-12 breakup.
Wetzel and Auerbach report that the discussions between four Big Ten presidents have begun Wednesday while the conference awaits to see what comes of the potential Big 12 poaching attempts for the remaining four-corner schools.
Pac-12 leaders on Tuesday met with commissioner George Kliavkoff, who presented multiple media and TV proposals. According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, the primary proposal includes a deal with Apple that falls far below the hopes of league leaders for earnings but could escalate depending on an increased subscriber base for viewers wanting to watch the Pac-12.
That deal is expected to be below the $31.7 million the Big 12 will give each school and well below the $50 million handed out to Big Ten schools.
The Wildcats appear to be next in line to make a decision on whether to stay with the Pac-12 or leave with the Big 12 aggressively attempting to add to its conference.
Arizona head football coach Jedd Fisch acknowledged Tuesday that a decision to leave the Pac-12 is on the table.
His used his media day time to push back against the idea that the Wildcats will dictate the survival of the Pac-12 as it’s known, and he added that financial factors about staying or leaving are in play.
“I recognize that people are putting, let’s call it some added pressure, that the University of Arizona will be the program that makes the final decision of what happens in the conference. I don’t think that’s the case,” Fisch said. “I think that the decision was made by other programs to change the conference and now it’s going to be a matter of the University of Arizona to decide what’s best for Arizona.
“Whatever we end up doing, I would imagine that that decision by our president is going to be solely based on the stability of wherever we land, the conference we land upon and the financial benefit of the multimedia rights of our conference,” he added. “I’ll say this. Athletics are very expensive and to run sports programs is very expensive.”