A group of Big Ten presidents has begun discussing the possibility of adding more West Coast schools to the conference if the Pac-12 continues to crumble, two people familiar with the conversations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Oregon and Washington would be the primary targets if the conference decided to make a move, one of the people said.
Yahoo Sports first reported the Big Ten was exploring the potential of adding more Pac-12 schools. The Big Ten vetted Pac-12 members Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California while maneuvering to add the Los Angeles schools, another person who was involved in that process told the AP.
The Big Ten has been reluctant to add more schools because they won’t increase the value of the seven-year, $7 billion media rights deals with Fox, CBS and NBC that begin this season. Annual payouts by the conference to Big Ten schools through the length of those deals are projected to reach over $60 million in just television revenue. Total conference payouts could reach $90 million per year.
By comparison, the Big 12’s recently agreed to extension with Fox and ESPN is projected to pay its members about $32 million annually.
During a board of trustees meeting Wednesday, Florida State president Richard McCullough lamented on the gap in revenue projections between ACC schools and the country’s top two conferences.
McCullough went on to say the Seminoles “will at some point consider leaving the ACC” barring “radical change in revenue distribution.”
The Pac-12 is hoping to keep its remaining members together with a media rights deal that would make Apple TV the conference’s primary home, ESPN reported Tuesday. The deal might not be enough to prevent more defections to the Big 12, with the remaining schools in the Four Corners region, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah, the prime targets.
The Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees both of the state’s Pac-12 schools, scheduled a meeting for Thursday evening. The meeting is set to almost immediately go into executive session with no public viewing.