LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Pac-12 Conference, which includes UCLA and USC, announced an alliance Tuesday with the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference that will include interconference games in football and men’s and women’s basketball.
The alliance — which was unanimously supported by the presidents, chancellors and athletics directors at all 41 institutions in the three conferences — will be “guided in all cases by a commitment to, and prioritization of, supporting student-athlete well-being, academic and athletic opportunities, experiences and diverse educational programming,” according to a Pac-12 statement.
The statement notes that the three conferences “remain competitors in every sense but are committed to collaborating and providing thought leadership on various opportunities and challenges facing college athletics,” including:
- student-athlete mental and physical health, safety, wellness and support;
- strong academic experience and support;
- diversity, equity and inclusion;
- social justice;
- gender equity;
- future structure of the NCAA;
- federal legislative efforts; and
- postseason championships and future formats.
The scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations, officials said. A working group of athletic directors in the three conferences will oversee that component of the alliance.
Scheduling in football will “feature additional attractive matchups across the three conferences while continuing to honor historic rivalries and the best traditions of college football.”
In basketball, the conferences will add early and mid-season games as well as annual events that feature premier matchups between the three leagues.
The three conferences will also explore opportunities for Olympic sports programs to compete more frequently.
“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” said Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, who announced the agreement in a joint media briefing Tuesday with Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and ACC Commissioner James Phillips. “We believe that collaborating together we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”
Tuesday’s move is seen by analysts as a reaction to the changing economic landscape of college sports, which has seen a move toward conference consolidation in recent years. Most recently, Texas and Oklahoma agreed to join the Southeastern Conference in 2025, which will bring the SEC to 16 schools.
The three commissioners were tight-lipped about possible further developments at Tuesday’s briefing, but Kliavkoff recently told the San Jose Mercury News that the Pac-12 will decide in the next few weeks whether it will explore adding additional schools.
The conference has grown gradually over the years. It was known as the Pac-8 in 1964, changed to the Pac-10 in 1978 with the addition of Arizona and Arizona State, and welcomed Utah and Colorado in 2011.
Asked if the Pac-12 might reduce its current practice of having its football teams play nine conference games to accommodate more games within the new alliance, Kliavkoff said that possibility would be discussed over the next several weeks as well.
Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.