Big 12 conference officials have their eyes on adding at least four Pac-12 programs, days after the defection of Southern California and UCLA to the Big Ten left the Pac-12 reeling, CBS Sports reported Tuesday.
The Big 12 is targeting Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah, per the report. The four programs could be natural fits as the Big 12 expands into the Mountain time zone with the already announced addition of BYU.
Oregon and Washington also could be targeted by the Big 12, and a merger of the two conferences also is a “possibility,” CBS Sports reported. At the same time, legislation is being discussed in both states that would require the Division I public universities to hold membership in the same conference, meaning leagues that want Washington and Oregon could be required to accept Washington State and Oregon State, too.
One thing is certain: College sports, driven by college football, are in flux. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that since late last week, 10 programs have contacted the Big Ten about potential membership.
Money is driving the shifts. According to the WSJ, the Big Ten distributed to its members $54.3 million in fiscal year 2020, compared to the average of $33.6 million received by Pac-12 schools that year.
Meanwhile, the Pac-12’s leadership group on Tuesday gave commissioner George Kliavkoff the go-ahead to begin negotiations on a new television contract to replace the current pact that expires in 2024.
It could be a hard sell for Kliavkoff, given he doesn’t know what teams will be in the league in 2024 — or whether the Pac-12 will have been forced to merge with another conference — and because of the lack of Los Angeles-based schools.