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Big Ten Officially Accepts Oregon, Washington as Conference Members Starting in 2024

August 04, 2023

The college athletics tectonic plates shifted yet again on Friday as the Big Ten Conference further expands its footprint to the Pacific Northwest.

Amid apparent instability within the Pac-12 for not expanding membership or securing a satisfactory media rights deal, the University of Oregon and University of Washington are joining the Big Ten. Both schools submitted applications of interest late this week. The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors approved both applications for membership via conference call on Friday.

“We are excited to welcome the University of Oregon and the University of Washington to the Big Ten Conference,” Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti said in a statement. “We look forward to building long-lasting relationships with the universities, administrators and staff, student-athletes, coaches and fans. Both institutions feature a combination of academic and athletic excellence that will prove a great fit for our future.”

The addition of Oregon and Washington follows a year of speculation. University presidents denied former commissioner Kevin Warren permission to seek expansion in the wake of Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC in 2024. The Big Ten didn’t want to be responsible for the potential end of the Pac-12. Warren left in January to become CEO of the Chicago Bears. Then the Pac-12 continually pushed back its new media rights deal, stirring unrest within its membership. The Colorado board of regents voted late last month to leave the Pac-12 and rejoin the Big 12. Pettiti said at 2023 Big Ten Football Media Days last week that he received no direction from member schools to do anything in terms of expansion.

University of Nebraska President Ted Carter represents Nebraska on the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors since a regents’ vote in June. He co-signed a statement alongside athletics director Trev Alberts and new university chancellor Dr. Ronnie Green following the conference’s announcement.

“Today marks an exciting moment in history for the Big Ten Conference and the University of Nebraska,” the statement read. “The landscape of college athletics continues to quickly evolve and adding Oregon and Washington further establishes the Big Ten as the preeminent conference in the country. These are two great institutions with highly recognizable brands that expands the Conference footprint to the Pacific Northwest. Nebraska has a large alumni base on the West Coast and the new additions will allow our fans in another region of the country to watch the Huskers compete on a more regular basis. Adding two highly respected universities to the Big Ten will also create exciting new opportunities for our faculty, staff and students to partner with world-class colleagues in research and academics. We welcome Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten Conference and look forward to competing and collaborating with them in the future.”

The move makes Oregon and Washington the Big Ten’s 17th and 18th members, respectively, when they join in 2024. USC and UCLA, also current members of the Pac-12, announced their intentions to join the Big Ten last summer and become conference members on July 1, 2024. Washington and Oregon will join the Big Ten, effective August 2, 2024.

University of Oregon President John Karl Scholz told reporters on Friday that Oregon is being granted partial revenue shares by the Big Ten to start. Nebraska, for example, also took a reduced revenue share during its initial onboarding period as a Big Ten member. National reports indicate Oregon and Washington will join at a nearly 50% discount of $30 million base level, with an extra $1 million for each year of the current media rights deal with FOX/NBC/CBS. Scholz told an emergency meeting of Oregon’s Board of Trustees on Friday that the school would receive full revenue shares in the next Big Ten media deals. Trustees then unanimously voted to join the Big Ten.

“I’m thrilled that the University of Oregon has the opportunity to join the nation’s preeminent academic-athletic conference,” UO president Karl Scholz said in a statement. “Our student-athletes will participate at the highest level of collegiate athletic competition, and our alumni, friends and fans will be able to carry the spirit of Oregon across the country.”

Oregon and Washington will compete in the Big Ten Conference across all sports in the 2024-25 academic year. They will also join the Big Ten Academic Alliance, a high-level research agreement among member institutions.

“The Big Ten is a thriving conference with strong athletic and academic traditions, and we are excited and confident about competing at the highest level on a national stage,” University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce said in a release. “My top priority must be to do what is best for our student-athletes and our University, and this move will help ensure a strong future for our athletics program.”

ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg reported the Big Ten won’t completely start over when building its 2024-25 conference football schedules. The conference announced its “flex-plus” scheduling model earlier this summer. Mutually determined rivalries will continue as previously announced while the remaining games require adjustments to onboard the latest members.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 scheduled a meeting late Friday to officially welcome Arizona, Arizona State and Utah into its fold effective next year. The Arizona board of regents—which oversees Arizona, Arizona State and Northern Arizona—voted to apply for Big 12 membership this week. National reports indicate the Big 12 is prepared to accept those three schools in that meeting.

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