Big Ten votes to accept USC, UCLA into conference beginning in 2024

Officials with the Big Ten voted on Thursday to accept the applications of the University of Southern California and UCLA to join the conference, ESPN and The Associated Press reported.

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The two Los Angeles-based schools, the flagship programs of the Pac-12, can start competing in Big Ten events beginning in 2024.

“As the national leader in academics and athletics for over 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically evaluated its membership with the collective goal to forward the academic and athletic mission for student-athletes under the umbrella of higher education,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “The unanimous vote today signifies the deep respect and welcoming culture our entire conference has for the University of Southern California, under the leadership of President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, under the leadership of Chancellor Gene Block. I am thankful for the collaborative efforts of our campus leadership, athletics directors and Council of Presidents and Chancellors who recognize the changing landscape of college athletics, methodically reviewed each request, and took appropriate action based on our consensus.”

The move is for all sports for USC and UCLA, which have 21 and 20 varsity sports, respectively, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Big Ten will now have 16 members in a conference that will stretch from coast to coast. The two schools will officially join the Big Ten on Aug. 2, 2024, USC said in a news release.

“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports,” athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. “We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.”

The Big Ten added the University of Nebraska in 2011, and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.

“The Pac-12 has always shared our values and continues to innovate, working hard on behalf of its student-athletes and many fans,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “At the same time, each school faces its own unique challenges and circumstances, and we believe this is the best move for UCLA at this time. For us, this move offers greater certainty in rapidly changing times and ensures that we remain a leader in college athletics for generations to come.”

“We just got Sooner’d and Horn’d,” a high-ranking university official at one of the Pac-12 schools told ESPN.

USC and UCLA have deep roots in the Pac-12 dating back to the 1920s and the Pacific Coast Conference, the Free Press reported. USC just celebrated its 100th year in the conference. UCLA has been a member since 1928.

In a statement, the Pac-12 said it was “extremely surprised and disappointed” by the news.

The Pac-12 has lagged behind other major conferences in media rights revenue, the Los Angeles Times reported. The conference distributed $344 million among its schools in the 2021 fiscal year. In the same year, the Big Ten paid out $680 million, according to the newspaper.

The Big Ten is currently negotiating its next media rights deal, which could top $1 billion in revenue per year, the Times reported.

The Pac-12 has not had a team reach the College Football Playoff series since the University of Washington in 2016. Only one other team -- the University of Oregon in 2014 -- has reached the playoff series, the newspaper reported.

In football, USC has played in a record 34 Rose Bowl games, winning a record 25 times, the Free Press reported.

The Trojans have also won 11 national football championships, most recently in 2003 and 2004.

UCLA won a national football title in 1954 and has won five Rose Bowls in 12 appearances.

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