Written by Grace McLaughlin, additional commentary and edits via Garrett Zatlin
Earlier today, both Brett McMurphy of Action Network and Pete Thamel of ESPN reported that Oregon and Washington are expected to join the BIG 10 Conference in 2024. While no contracts have been signed yet, the deals have been made “in principle” and a vote by the conference, "is expected to be unanimous."
The Ducks and Huskies will be the fourth and fifth teams to depart the PAC-12 over the last year once the deal has been finalized. Last week, the University of Colorado announced their move to the BIG 12, ultimately acting as a spark plug to the expected departures of Oregon and Washington.
It should also be noted that both USC and UCLA, two soon-to-be former PAC-12 programs, signed contracts in the summer of 2022 to also join the BIG 10 starting in 2024.
The recent departures of prominent schools from the PAC-12 come amidst the lack of a long-term media/television revenue deal, something that other major conferences have locked down. According to Ross Dellenger and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, a proposed media deal between Apple TV and the PAC-12 would still be significantly less than what the BIG 10 is able to offer the incoming west coast programs.
The departure of Oregon and Washington from the PAC-12, paired with the losses of UCLA, USC and Colorado, leaves the conference in jeopardy of a collapse. With rumors of the University of Arizona following suit to head to the BIG 12 (which is not yet confirmed), the PAC-12’s elite legacy and existence as a Power Five conference could be nearing an end.
Oregon and Washington have been viewed as powerhouse cross country and track and field programs, both historically and as of late. And by joining UCLA and USC in the BIG 10 next year, the conference will emerge as a juggernaut institution that will ultimately house one of the deepest collections of cross country programs in the NCAA.