The Pac-12’s ongoing struggle to land a media rights deal has pushed the conference to the brink of extinction based on the latest development thousands of miles away. The Big Ten is considering membership invitations for Washington, Oregon, Stanford and Cal, according to Yahoo.
The website described the situation as preliminary, with four Big Ten presidents engaging in “exploratory” discussions about creating a western division. USC and UCLA are scheduled to join the conference next summer.
The news comes one day after Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff presented a media rights deal to his schools — a proposal reportedly centered around a streaming partnership with Apple.
Yahoo reported: “The (Big Ten) discussions are in the very early stages, sources caution. No decision, including on whether to expand or stay put at 16 teams, has been made or is considered imminent.”
The Big Ten presidents had shown no interest in adding more schools following the move last summer to gobble up USC and UCLA, partly because the conference didn’t want to be viewed as predatory and partly because of financial complications.
However, Colorado’s move from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 and the potential for Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to do the same has massively destabilized the century-old conference — to the point that the Big Ten could appear as a savior for four of the remaining schools.
Oregon and Washington would be the options if the Big Ten added two and became an 18-team league; the Bay Area tandem would create a quartet and push membership to 20.
The newcomers would not join the conference at full shares of the broadcast revenue, which total approximately $65 million per school per year.
Instead, they likely would join with about 50-percent shares, compared to their peers.
Even at $30 million in media revenue per year in the Big Ten, the schools might exceed the cash headed their way in the Pac-12 under Kliavkoff’s proposed plan.
*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 408-920-5716
*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline
*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.