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Big Ten Having ‘Exploratory Discussions’ on Expansion Amid Pac-12 Uncertainty: Report

The Pac-12 Media Rights proposal finally came to the table on Tuesday, but conference officials weren’t sold and left said table without a deal.

As expected, the proposed deal was heavily involved with Apple TV, a streaming-only platform. It has long been said that a non-linear option would be a hard sell for many Pac-12 programs, and that very well appears to be the case at this point.

Now, in the aftermath of that meeting, Pac-12 schools are left to ponder what is best for their future, and in the light of so much uncertainty, the Big Ten looks to be getting involved once again.


According to Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, the Big Ten has begun exploratory discussions about expanding membership to 18 or even 20 teams. Among the schools being considered are Oregon and Washington, with Cal and Stanford being possibilities if the conference decides that 20 is its best number.

Wetzel also makes sure to be clear that these discussions are very early on, and that no decision is considered imminent.

“The discussions are in the very early stages, sources caution,” Wetzel writes. “No decision, including on whether to expand or stay put at 16 teams, has been made or is considered imminent.

“The Big Ten may also patiently wait to see what happens with other Pac-12 schools and their potential move to the Big 12 before acting at all.

“However, ballooning the league to as many 20 teams by adding a six-team West Coast flank — including 2024 arrivals USC and UCLA — is a real possibility. This is especially true if the Pac-12, which dates back to 1915, falls apart in the near future.”


This all comes within a week of Colorado announcing its decision to leave the Pac-12 and rejoin the Big 12, the conference it called home from 1996-2011.

With the Buffs headed to the Big 12, plus USC and UCLA headed to the Big Ten in 2024, the Pac-12 is left with just nine schools at the moment. If one or more schools decide to follow Colorado’s lead and join the Big 12, it would leave the Big Ten in an advantageous situation to pick off Oregon and Washington, as well as Cal and Stanford, if deemed necessary.

While official numbers from the Pac-12’s Apple TV+ proposal haven’t been released, its been estimated that the number is somewhere around $20M per school, whereas the Big Ten will pay out a minimum of $50M to each of its member schools, with that number expected to increase.

If/when the Big Ten decides it’s worth taking Oregon and Washington, the Pac-12’s goose is cooked. And with talks heating up, it appears the oven has been set to preheat.

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