The two schools, previously part of the Pac-12 conference, were admitted to the Big Ten by an unanimous vote after submitting written applications. USC and UCLA were evaluated on principles of “academics and culture; student-athlete welfare, competition, and logistics; commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in sports; and financial sustainability,” according to a press release on Big Ten’s website.
“As the national leader in academics and athletics for over 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically evaluated its membership with the collective goal to forward the academic and athletic mission for student-athletes under the umbrella of higher education,” Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “The unanimous vote today signifies the deep respect and welcoming culture our entire conference has for the University of Southern California, under the leadership of President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, under the leadership of Chancellor Gene Block. I am thankful for the collaborative efforts of our campus leadership, athletics directors and Council of Presidents and Chancellors who recognize the changing landscape of college athletics, methodically reviewed each request, and took appropriate action based on our consensus.”
USC and UCLA will join Indiana University, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska, Northwestern University, Purdue University and University of Wisconsin.
The move is a blow to ESPN and a boon for Fox Sports. The shift of two West Coast marquee schools into the Big Ten will give a boost to the football offerings on Big Ten Network, the sports cabler that launched in 2007 as a 20-year joint venture of the conference and Fox Sports. At present, ESPN and Fox Sports share the TV rights package to the Pac-12 conference, but that deal is up in 2024.
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.