Big Ten, Iowa Hawkeyes Respond To UCLA And USC Plans To Join Conference
The Big Ten Conference is going to get a little bigger in 2024. Two teams will be joining the conference that year after they announced that they will be leaving another Power-5 conference in the PAC-12. The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) will become the two newest teams in the Big Ten.
On Thursday, news broke from ESPN that UCLA and USC announced they are making plans to leave the PAC-12 and join the Big Ten Conference starting in 2024. In a press release on Thursday, The Big Ten Conference announced that the Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to admit both schools to the Big Ten Conference. That change will be effective August 2, 2024. Big Ten officials say that competition will begin for all conference sports in the 2024-25 academic year.
The Big Ten received written applications from the two universities. The Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren, conference athletics directors, and the Council of Presidents and Chancellors evaluated the applications based on a dynamic model weighting four primary principles with supporting criteria. Those principles include:
- Academics and culture
- Student-athlete welfare, competition, and logistics
- Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in sports
- Financial sustainability
The Big Ten says this model allows the conference to analyze criteria in a strategic and effective manner.
Big Ten Conference Commissioner Kevin Warren said in the press release,
“As the national leader in academics and athletics for over 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically evaluated its membership with the collective goal to forward the academic and athletic mission for student-athletes under the umbrella of higher education. The unanimous vote today signifies the deep respect and welcoming culture our entire conference has for the University of Southern California, under the leadership of President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, under the leadership of Chancellor Gene Block. I am thankful for the collaborative efforts of our campus leadership, athletics directors and Council of Presidents and Chancellors who recognize the changing landscape of college athletics, methodically reviewed each request, and took appropriate action based on our consensus.”
The University of Iowa's President and Athletic Director responded to the addition of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten Conference.
In a separate press release, University of Iowa leaders made the following statements in support of the addition of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC) to the Big Ten Conference.
UI President Barbara Wilson said in response to the announcement,
“The addition of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten will enhance the conference’s existing comprehensive excellence in academics, research, and athletics. I look forward to welcoming our new colleagues to Iowa City and the UI campus.”
The addition marks the first expansion since Maryland and Rutgers joined the conference in 2014, increasing the Big Ten membership to 16 schools.
Iowa Athletic Director and the Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair Gary Barta said,
“We are excited about the addition of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten Conference. Both institutions fit our department’s “Win. Graduate. Do it right” culture. There are many logistics to work out over the coming months, and we are eager to begin the process.”
The Big Ten is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States. The Big Ten began in 1896. The addition of the two universities remains subject to negotiation of final terms, according to the Big Ten.