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Adding USC-UCLA to Big Ten Was an 'Easy Decision,' Penn State Says

Penn State heralds the Big Ten's big change. Ohio State AD wants Notre Dame.

Penn State applauded the Big Ten for admitting USC and UCLA, releasing statements from administrators and coaches calling it a "big step," an "exciting day" and an "easy decision."

Meanwhile, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith made some interesting references to his program's place in the Big Ten and the possible admission of a 17th program: Notre Dame.

The Big Ten announced Thursday that conference presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to admit USC and UCLA for all conference sports beginning in 2024. Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi was among those who voted in favor of expansion.

"This is a thrilling evening for the Big Ten Conference," Bendapudi said in a statement Thursday night. "We welcome USC and UCLA with open arms as like-minded institutions that are as committed to high GPAs and graduation rates as they are to on-field excellence. It was an easy decision that will build upon our conference’s rich heritage."

Penn State football coach James Franklin and athletic director Patrick Kraft, who began his new job Friday, shared Bendapudi's enthusiasm.

"This is another big step in the ever-changing college football landscape and we embrace the change. USC and UCLA are two institutions with a long-standing tradition of academic and athletic success," Franklin said. "They will only strengthen our already very strong Big Ten Conference."

"Penn State University is a proud member of the Big Ten Conference, and we welcome the addition of two world-class universities to our family," Kraft said. "USC and UCLA are both synonymous with academic and athletics success and will be tremendous additions to our conference."

At Ohio State, Smith and university president Kristina Johnson held a news conference Friday, at which both suggested expansion wasn't finished. Johnson told reporters that she would be "surprised" if this were the Big Ten's last move.

And Smith made a suggestion about Notre Dame, his alma mater.

"I love my alma mater, except when we play them, and I’ve always thought they should be in a conference," Smith told reporters. "... I hope they're considering that, and I hope it’s the Big Ten."

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports reported on Twitter that the Big Ten is "waiting on a decision" from Notre Dame.

Additionally, Smith made an interesting comment about USC and UCLA taking some pressure off Ohio State in the Big Ten.

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"Ohio State has been a program for the Big Ten over the years that has been at the top of the pyramid," Smith said. "Now we have two others who can contribute to that weight."

Several other Penn State coaches issued statements supporting the Big Ten's decision to admit USC and UCLA. Here's a look:

Men's basketball coach Micah Shrewsberry: The Big Ten has long been home to universities that compete at the highest level in both athletics and academics. UCLA and USC are not only two institutions whose values align with Big Ten, but whose basketball traditions will be great additions to bolster the Big Ten as the nation’s premiere basketball conference.

Women's basketball coach Carolyn Kieger: The Big Ten is a terrific conference in both academics and athletics. The two new institutions, UCLA and USC, fit that mold exactly. These two schools bring historical success and tradition in women’s basketball. I’m very excited for the future of our league.

Baseball coach Rob Cooper: The Big Ten has always been committed to competing for national championships, while achieving academic excellence in the classroom. The addition of USC and UCLA further illustrates this commitment. This is an exciting day for the Big Ten.

Softball coach Clarisa Crowell: This is an exciting day for Big Ten softball with the addition of UCLA. Its strong softball tradition will continue to elevate the conference. From an overall conference perspective, the academic excellence at both UCLA and USC are in perfect alignment with the Big Ten. We welcome USC and UCLA to the B1G.

Women's soccer coach Erica Dambach: On behalf of the Penn State women’s soccer staff and our student-athletes, we are excited to welcome UCLA and USC to the Big Ten Conference. Both institutions have strong reputations in academics and athletics, and we could not be more thrilled for them to join our league. From a women’s soccer standpoint, these are two of the top programs nationally and will only help to solidify the Big Ten as THE premier conference in the country.

Women's volleyball coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley: This is an exciting time for Big Ten women’s volleyball as we add two outstanding programs in UCLA and USC to what is already the best volleyball conference in the country. Their athletic success combined with their reputations as prestigious academic institutions make both schools a perfect fit for the Big Ten. These additions ensure our conference will be strong for years to come. I am happy to welcome both schools to the Big Ten!

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the SI.com network.