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Big Ten's Warren gets needed win with addition of USC, UCLA

The unanimity of Thursday’s vote to bring USC and UCLA into the Big Ten “will be a win” for Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren, according to Zach Osterman of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. Warren’s first two years in the job “have not always been smooth.” However, the “seamlessness with which the Big Ten absorbed two new members into its fold -- at the expense of a direct competitor with whom the conference entered into the now infamous Alliance last summer only to outflank them now -- was a credit to Warren and his staff.” Indiana AD Scott Dolson said, “I give Commissioner Warren and his staff a ton of credit, really, for the job they did in quickly providing all the information we needed to evaluate this. It was really based on looking at academics and culture, student-athlete welfare, diversity and inclusivity, and financial stability” (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/1).

TURNING HEEL ON HIS PARTNERS: SI.com's Pat Forde noted the Big Ten last year formed The Alliance with the Pac-12 and ACC following Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, but Warren “has stuck a shiv in the ribs of Alliance compadre George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12, breaking the agreement between the three leagues not to raid one another for members.” Warren also has “absolutely destabilized Jim Phillips’s ACC in the process, undoubtedly escalating the wanderlust of schools in that league” (SI.com, 6/30). In S.F., Ron Kroichick notes the Alliance was “supposed to lead to coordinated efforts on scheduling and other initiatives ‘guided by supporting student-athlete well-being.’” It instead took “less than a year for the Pac-12’s marquee schools to flee for the Big Ten” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/1). ESPN’s Heather Dinich said, “There’s a complete erosion of trust right now everywhere” (“This Just In,” ESPN, 6/30).

SO MUCH FOR A GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT: USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken notes nothing was put on paper to “prevent poaching from each other.” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren “has a ruthless streak,” and even if USC and UCLA approached the Big Ten “rather than the other way around … the knife in the back cuts all the same” (USA TODAY, 7/1). ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson noted the three league commissioners last year “seemed to really stand behind their ‘handshake agreement’ as something that would hold up over time.” Adelson: “Even then, the idea that a handshake agreement would keep realignment from happening again seemed pretty preposterous” (ESPN.com, 6/30).

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO: YAHOO SPORTS’ Dan Wetzel wrote the “duplicity of the Big Ten is, of course, almost unquantifiable.” The league “clutched its pearls and bemoaned the aggressive and destabilizing actions of the SEC” after adding Texas and Oklahoma. It “tried to claim a moral high ground” and founded The Alliance.” Less than 12 months later, the Big Ten has “shanked its Alliance partner and probably did even more than the SEC to blow up the longstanding system of college athletics” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/30).

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