The Big Ten is set to expand to 18 teams with the addition of Oregon and Washington.
The two Pac-12 schools have cleared the way to apply for membership in the Big Ten, according to the Associated Press. schools still need to officially apply for membership, and the Big Ten presidents need to approve the moves.
Once Oregon and Washington join the Big Ten, they will become the third and fourth schools on the West Coast in the conference, joining USC and UCLA. The latest departures from the Pac-12 have pushed the storied West Coast college sports conference to the brink of extinction.
Arizona has been in serious talks to leave for the Big 12 and join Colorado, which announced last week its exit from the Pac-12 after this year. It is unclear if in-state rival Arizona State will join the Wildcats. The Arizona Board of Regents held a special meeting Thursday night to try to get the schools on the same page.
The Big 12 also has been targeting the University of Utah.
Pac-12 leaders met early Friday to determine if the nine remaining schools, which at the time included Oregon and Washington, would accept a potential media rights deal with Apple. With Oregon and Washington positioned to jump, the Pac-12 is in danger of soon being down to four members: Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State.
The addition of Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten is a major coup for the conference. Both schools are athletic powerhouses with large and passionate fan bases. Their addition will give the Big Ten a stronger presence in the West Coast media market and make it a more attractive destination for top recruits.
The Big Ten’s expansion is the latest sign of the seismic changes that are taking place in college sports. The Power 5 conferences are consolidating their power and leaving the rest of the conferences behind. It remains to be seen what the long-term implications of these changes will be, but it is clear that the landscape of college sports is changing rapidly.
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Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @noralparham.