The Big Ten is getting bigger.
Starting in August of 2024, the conference will grow to 16 teams as crosstown rivals USC and UCLA announced Thursday they are joining the Big Ten. USC has been a member of the Pac-12, and its predecessors, since 1922, UCLA since 1928.
The Trojans claim 11 national titles in football, and another 111 national championships across 21 NCAA team sports.
“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports,” Athletic Director Mike Bohn said in a release. “We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.”
UCLA has won 119 NCAA national championships, second only to Stanford’s 128. The Bruins’ men’s basketball program has won 11 national titles, three more than second-place Kentucky.
“As the oldest NCAA Division I athletic conference in the United States and with a footprint that will now extend from the Pacific to the Atlantic,” Chancellor Gene Bock said. “Big Ten membership offers Bruins exciting new competitive opportunities and a broader national media platform for our student-athletes to compete and showcase their talents. Specifically, this move will enhance Name, Image and Likeness opportunities through greater exposure for our student-athletes and offer new partnerships with entities across the country.”
Nebraska football last played UCLA in the 2015 Foster Farms Bowl, a 37-29 win in Mike Riley’s first season. The Huskers last faced USC in the Holiday Bowl in 2014, a 45-42 loss under interim coach Barney Cotton. Nebraska is 0-4-1 all-time against the Trojans, 7-6 against the Bruins.
The move will only bolster the Big Ten’s dominant position in women’s volleyball. UCLA has won four national titles, trailing only Stanford (9), Penn State (7) and Nebraska (5). USC has claimed three women’s volleyball titles.
“This is an exciting and historic day for the Big Ten Conference and the University of Nebraska,” Athletic Director Trev Alberts and Chancellor Ronnie Green said in a joint statement. “The addition of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten is a bold, ambitious step during a time of historic change in the collegiate athletics landscape. These institutions will add two world-class athletic departments and brands to the Big Ten and stretch the Conference footprint from coast to coast. For the University of Nebraska, there are many positives associated with this expansion. UNL has a large alumni base in California that will have a great opportunity to regularly watch our teams compete in historical athletic venues in Southern California. Nebraska has had a history of success recruiting athletes from California, and this will only enhance Nebraska’s profile in a fertile recruiting ground. We welcome UCLA and USC to the Big Ten Conference and look forward to competing with them in the future.”
This is the fourth round of expansion for the modern the Big Ten. Penn State, formerly an Atlantic-10 member and football independent, joined in 1990. Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten ahead of the 2011–12 academic year. Rutgers (Big East) and Maryland (ACC) joined for 2014–15.
The additions of USC and UCLA put the Big Ten on even footing, in terms of teams, with a growing Southeastern Conference, the other major power player when it comes to existing revenue and expected revenue as a 16-team league. Last summer, Oklahoma and Texas announced they were leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. No timeline has been announced yet for the Sooners’ and Longhorns’ arrival. Their existing grant-of-rights deals with the Big 12 run through the 2024–25 academic year. The two schools would have to pay a steep penalty to leave before the start of the 2025 football season.
Earlier this month BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston announced they will begin play in the Big 12 in the fall of 2023.