A group of Big Ten presidents has begun discussing the possibility of adding more West Coast schools to the conference if the Pac-12 continues to crumble, two people familiar with the conversations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the conversations were preliminary and the Big Ten was not going public with its internal deliberations.
Yahoo Sports first reported the Big Ten was exploring the potential of adding more Pac-12 schools.
The Pac-12 is down to nine schools seemingly committed beyond this year, with Southern California and UCLA heading to the Big Ten in 2024 and Colorado to the Big 12. Colorado announced its move last week.
The Pac-12 is hoping to keep its remaining members together with a media rights deal that would make Apple TV the conference’s primary home, ESPN reported Tuesday. The deal might not be enough to prevent more defections to the Big 12, with the remaining schools in the Four Corners region, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah, the prime targets.
USC’s and UCLA’s move to the Big Ten, announced in June 2022, were the first blows to send the Pac-12 reeling into uncertainty over the past year.
The Big Ten vetted Pac-12 members Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California while maneuvering to add the Los Angeles schools, another person who was involved in that process told the AP.
While former Commissioner Kevin Warren kept the idea of more Western expansion alive in the Big Ten, a change of leadership seemed to cool down a desire for more growth in the league.
New Commissioner Tony Petitti said during Big Ten football media days that expansion was not a priority.
“The Big Ten Conference is still focused on integration of USC and UCLA, but it’s also the commissioner’s job to keep chancellors and presidents informed about new developments as they occur,” the Big Ten said in a statement Wednesday.