The conference held a formal vote on Thursday night, during which the Big Ten schools’ presidents reached a unanimous decision, sources told Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger. The two schools are expected to join the conference in 2024. ESPN’s Pete Thamel was first to report of the official vote.
Following the vote, several schools—mostly from the Pac-12—contacted the Big Ten about joining the league, though no further expansion is expected imminently.
The seismic move started when the two Los Angeles schools approached the Big Ten months ago. Sources told Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger that the two programs’ message to the Big Ten boiled down to this: they were leaving the Pac-12, and would the Big Ten want them. A Big Ten source said to Dellenger, “You have to be a moron to not think about it. They would have gone somewhere else if we said ’no.’”
The Big Ten formed an expansion committee and spent the last several months “discussing the possibility,” according to Dellenger. Why? “Something was going to happen to combat the Texas and Oklahoma move,” a source told Dellenger.
The defection from USC and UCLA comes less than a year after the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC formed “The Alliance,” an informal agreement between the three leagues as an apparent combatant to the SEC’s growing footprint following the latter’s poaching Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12.
The move furthers speculation that college sports is headed towards a “Power 2” system, where the Big Ten and SEC continue to poach big-name programs from other leagues. The sentiment throughout the college football world is that the two leagues could grow to 30-35 teams each, operating as a “semi-professional model” of the sport, per Dellenger.
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