The Big Ten's chancellors and presidents unanimously voted on Thursday evening to expand the conference by accepting membership applications from UCLA and USC.
“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,” commissioner Kevin Warren said in a press release.
“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 Bruins and Trojans will join the conference in all sports except beach volleyball, men’s volleyball and men’s and women’s water polo – sports which the Big Ten does not sponsor – beginning with the 2024-25 season.
This marks the fourth expansion for the Big Ten in the last 70 years, which appropriately featured 10 teams from 1950 until Penn State joined the conference in 1990. The Big Ten also added Nebraska in 2011 and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014, brining the total number of teams to 14.
UCLA and USC, meanwhile, have been members of the Pac-12 for more than 90 years, as the Trojans joined the league – which was known at the time as the Pacific Coast Conference – in 1922 and the Bruins in 1928.
The addition of the Bruins and Trojans comes nearly a year after the SEC invited Oklahoma and Texas to join the conference in time for the 2025-26 season. Both conferences will now stand at 16 teams.
It also further undermines the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 Alliance, which was formed last summer with hopes of scheduling annual non-conference matchups among the three conferences. Nothing substantial ever came from the alliance, however.
The Big Ten’s footprint now stretches more than 2,700 miles from New Jersey to California and consists of schools near New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, which constitutes five of the seven largest media markets in the country.
The Bruins and Trojans rank second and third all time with 119 and 111 Division I national championships, respectively. That includes 11 claimed national titles in football for the Trojans and 11 NCAA Tournament titles for the Bruins in men’s basketball.
Ohio State has not played UCLA in football since 2001, while the most recent meeting with USC came in the 2017 Cotton Bowl. The Buckeyes haven’t played the Trojans in basketball since the 1997-98 season, but have matched up with the Bruins three times since 2016 in the annual CBS Sports Classic.
“We are excited about the opportunity this new partnership represents for The Ohio State University and for our student-athletes to compete with their peers from two storied athletics programs," university president Kristina M. Johnson and athletic director Gene Smith said in a joint statement.
"USC and UCLA are leading research universities that will enhance the Big Ten Conference in the classroom and on the field of competition. More than 25,000 alumni of Buckeye Nation call the state of California home and will soon have the chance to deepen their connections to the student-athletes who run, pass, swim and play in the sports they love.”
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