In the latest move of conference realignment in college athletics, Oregon and Washington will become the 17th and 18th members of the Big Ten following a vote by the conference’s university presidents and chancellors.
Both schools will begin Big Ten competition in all sports in 2024.
“We are excited to welcome the University of Oregon and the University of Washington to the Big Ten Conference,” Big Ten commissioner Tony Pettiti 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.”
Just over 13 months ago, the Big Ten announced that UCLA and USC would join the conference in 2024. In the immediate aftermath of that decision, rumors began swirling about potential further realignment, with Oregon and Washington being frequently referred to as likely targets. Since then, Colorado accepted an invitation to spur the Pac-12 for a return to the Big 12, and after reports of potential holdups earlier in the week, Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic confirmed Friday afternoon that the Big Ten had formally invited the Ducks and Huskies to the conference. Just hours later, the move became official, and Arizona, Arizona State and Utah were introduced as new members of the Big 12, leaving the Pac-12 with just four returning members.
Last year, the Big Ten negotiated seven-year, $7 billion media rights agreement with FOX, CBS and NBC, the most lucrative media rights deal of any conference in college athletics. Oregon and Washington will receive partial shares during the early years of their inclusion. The Pac-12 has been unable to reach an agreement on a new media rights deal, putting the state of the conference in flux and leading to member institutions looking elsewhere to ensure long-term viability.
“The stability and exposure of joining the Big Ten is of great benefit to the University of Oregon, and we are grateful to the Big Ten presidents and chancellors for accepting our application to join the conference,” University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said.
“We have tremendous respect and gratitude for the Pac-12, its treasured history and traditions. At the same time, the college athletics landscape has changed dramatically in recent years,” Washington athletic director Jennifer Cohen added. “The Big Ten’s history of athletic and academic success and long-term stability best positions our teams for future success, and we are energized at the opportunity to compete at the highest level against some of the best programs in the country.”
Washington has the third-most conference championships in Pac-12 history across all sports (186) and Oregon has the fifth-most (113). Oregon and Washington are also the only two schools currently in the Pac-12 to have appeared in the College Football Playoff. Now, with their additions, four of the Big Ten’s 18 teams will be on the West Coast with the ever-present potential of further expansion.
“The University of Maryland supports the Big Ten Conference’s announcement of the admission of the University of Oregon and University of Washington to the conference,” Maryland school president Darryll Pines and athletic director Damon Evans said. “... These moves highlight another step in the dynamic evolution of intercollegiate athletics. Conference realignment joins NIL, collectives, labor, media rights and many other issues that presidents and athletic directors all over the country continue to grapple with.”