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USC, UCLA accepted for Big Ten membership

The Big Ten presidents and chancellors formally accepted USC and UCLA's applications for membership Thursday afternoon. The schools' realignment will begin on Aug. 2, 2024, and "include all sports except beach volleyball, men’s volleyball and men’s and women’s water polo." USC and UCLA have been "flagship members" of the Pac-12 for "nearly a century." Their departure to the Big Ten "signifies a death blow to the notion of the Pac-12 as a competitive, top-level football conference and serves to bolster the Big Ten in its efforts to keep up" with the SEC. The Trojans and Bruins will boost the Big Ten to 16, and "there’s a chance the league will continue to add members." But sources said that "no other Pac-12 members are expected to be added to the Big Ten at this time" (L.A. TIMES, 6/30).

The Pac-12 issued a statement Thursday evening saying it was "extremely surprised and disappointed" by the schools' decision to leave, but it looks forward to working with "current and potential members" about the future. The Pac-12 was "silent about the move" until 5:15pm PT (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 6/30). The Pac-12 was "clearly blindsided by two of its premier universities opting to leave together." As the conference "began to swallow this bitter pill, it also was wrapped up in damage control." Analysts employed by the Pac-12 Network were "pulled off scheduled local radio stations in light of the stunning news" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/30).

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