A group of Big Ten presidents is quietly discussing the possibility of adding more schools from the West Coast to the conference, according to sources familiar with the matter. While the conversations are still in the preliminary stages, it is rumored that the Big Ten might pursue Oregon and Washington as primary targets for potential expansion.
The news comes after Yahoo Sports first reported that the Big Ten was exploring the idea of adding more schools from the Pac-12. Currently, the Pac-12 is facing a decline in membership, with only nine schools showing commitment beyond this year. Colorado, for instance, recently announced its move to the Big 12 next year.
To keep its remaining members intact, the Pac-12 is reportedly considering a media rights deal that would involve Apple TV+ as its primary home. However, this might not be enough to prevent further defections to the Big 12. Schools like Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah are said to be prime targets for other conferences.
Amidst this uncertainty, the Arizona Board of Regents has called for a meeting on Thursday evening. The specific agenda item relates to a review of assignments for Arizona State University President Michael Crow and the University of Arizona President Robert Robbins, as well as possible legal advice and discussion regarding university athletics.
The Pac-12 has faced significant challenges in the past year, with USC and UCLA's move to the Big Ten being the initial blows that sent shockwaves through the conference. As talks continue behind closed doors, it remains to be seen which schools will ultimately find themselves part of the prestigious Big Ten conference.
The Big Ten's Consideration of Pac-12 Expansion
During the process of evaluating potential new members, the Big Ten looked into Oregon, Washington, Stanford, and California from the Pac-12, according to an anonymous source. However, it appears that the league's interest in further growth has cooled down with the change in leadership.
Former Commissioner Kevin Warren had expressed an interest in expanding westward, but the new Commissioner Tony Petitti has stated that expansion is not a priority for the Big Ten. Nevertheless, the conference remains focused on integrating USC and UCLA while keeping chancellors and presidents informed about any new developments.
The primary reason behind the Big Ten's hesitation to add more schools is that it would not increase the value of their lucrative media rights deals with Fox, CBS, and NBC. These media rights deals are set to begin this season and are valued at $7 billion over seven years.
However, expanding into the Northwestern region could potentially provide some added value to the Big Ten Network, according to sources familiar with the situation. The conference's annual payouts to member schools from television revenue alone are projected to exceed $60 million and could reach up to $90 million per year.
In comparison, the recently extended media rights deals of the Big 12 are expected to pay its members around $32 million annually. Therefore, any further expansion by the Big Ten would need to ensure that it does not come at the expense of current member payouts.
Despite a potentially reduced payout, joining the Big Ten could still be more lucrative for Pac-12 schools than what they currently receive under their Apple TV deal or what is available in the Big 12.
The Big Ten's consideration of expanding into Pac-12 territory demonstrates their willingness to adapt and explore new opportunities for growth while prioritizing the financial interests of its current members.