In a mere 12-hour span on Friday, five universities announced their departure from the Pac-12, setting sail for new horizons in the Big Ten and the Big 12.
Oregon and Washington, charter members of the conference, announced their plans to join the Big Ten's ranks, while Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah will join the Big 12, as Sports Illustrated reported.
The move comes right as Pac-12’s media rights deal with ESPN and FOX expires, according to CNN. That means they won’t have to pay any exit fees.
Since USC and UCLA announced their departures in June 2022, now, eight Pac-12 schools have parted ways. With Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah slated to leave for the 2024 season, the Pac-12 has just one more athletic season before witnessing the departure of three-quarters of its membership.
Amid the fallout, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Oregon State, and Washington State now find themselves in uncharted waters.
In a statement that reflected the collective sentiment of disappointment, the Pac-12 acknowledged the blow to the shared 100-year history, tradition, and rivalries, vowing to champion the “best possible future” for the remaining member universities.
But top conference officials are reportedly mad — Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes told The Oregonian that they “were literally hours away from a deal that everybody could embrace … I’m furious.”
Now, to retain its NCAA membership status, the Pac-12 requires a minimum of siz teams — two more schools than it currently has in its ranks.
The possible solutions reported don’t seem too appealing. There are rumors of potential partnerships or mergers, like joining the Mountain West or even a bigger conference in the Midwest or East Coast, as SFGATE reported.
The legacy of the Pac-12 — or the PAC-4 — hangs in the balance.
Feature image via Louis Grasse/Getty Images.