Big Ten becomes more of a super conference
A period of profound change in collegiate athletics continued Friday when the Big Ten announced that the Universities of Oregon and Washington will leave the Pac-12 and join the Big Ten in August 2024, with competition to begin in all sports during the 2024-25 academic year.
While it was a devastating day for the Pac-12, which also has lost Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah in the past week, the news further solidified the Big Ten, which also adds UCLA and USC next year, as a coast-to-coast super conference.
For the Pac-12, a conference with more NCAA championships than any other, the departure of Oregon and Washington was compounded by the news that the Big 12 Conference would also raid it by adding Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah. The Pac-12, which was unable to negotiate a satisfactory media rights agreement, is now down to four teams and faces extinction.
With its lucrative seven-year, $7 billion media rights deal with Fox, CBS, and NBC, the Big Ten can offer Oregon and Washington better financial security. The addition of UCLA and USC, announced last year, gives the Big Ten the nation’s three largest media markets — New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. If no other schools are added, the conference will have 18 members by this time next year.
For UW–Madison and other Big Ten student-athletes, it means more travel and more experiences in an era where the internet helps them tend to their coursework while on the road. “It is not currently clear exactly what the travel cadence will look like for UW student-athletes going forward,” notes UW Deputy Athletic Director Mitchell Pinta. “But it is true that technology has been, and will continue to be, a key component in student athletes’ abilities to succeed academically.”