The landscape of college sports continues its drastic change.
The Pac-12 Conference is down to only four schools remaining as the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and the University of Utah announced Friday they are leaving to join the Big 12 Conference.
“We are thrilled to welcome Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to the Big 12,” conference commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement on Friday. “The Conference is gaining three premier institutions both academically and athletically, and the entire Big 12 looks forward to working alongside their presidents, athletic directors, student-athletes and administrators.”
The University of Oregon and the University of Washington will officially leave the Pac-12 and join the Big Ten Conference starting in 2024, both schools announced earlier Friday.
The decision by the schools to change conferences coincides with the end of the Pac 12’s media rights deal with ESPN and FOX, and marks the latest shift in the collegiate sports landscape jumpstarted by UCLA and USC announcing last year they would be leaving for the Big Ten at the start of the 2024-25 season.
The decision to leave after the conclusion of the Pac-12’s media rights deal saves the schools from having to pay any exit fee.
“Today’s news is incredibly disappointing for our student-athletes, fans, alumni and staff of the Pac-12 who cherish the over 100-year history, tradition and rivalries of the Conference of Champions,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “We remain focused on securing the best possible future for each of our member universities.”
I figured something would happen after Colorado announced its departure for the Big XII a week ago, but I wasn’t expecting this momentous, this fast. Like the old Southwest Conference in 1995, this almost certainly signals the end of a historic college sports organization, one with tons of history and culture, not to mention the death of a couple of longstanding in-state rivalries, though the Universities of Oregon and Washington say they will ensure they continue. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, and whether you’re on board with the total makeover of the NCAA or not, this is a huge deal. ESPN, Slate, and CBS Sports have more.