USC, UCLA Big Ten move poses 'significant' impact on remaining Pac-12 schools

The report estimates that USC's move to the Big Ten alone could result in a $150 million loss in media revenue for the Pac-12

Updated: August 18, 2022 - 12:20am

The University of Southern California's plan to leave the Pac-12 athletic conference and join the Big Ten in 2024 will have a "significant fiscal impact" on remaining schools in the Pac-12, according to a report released Wednesday.

The interim report, presented to the UC Regents on Wednesday, overviews the impact UCLA and USC's decision to join the Big Ten in two years will have on other campuses and on student athletes. Both UCLA and USC announced in June plans to join the Big Ten in 2024 once Pac-12's existing media agreement expires – an announcement that sparked concern from the UC Regents and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who say they were left out of the decision-making process.

The report estimates that USC's move to the Big Ten alone could result in a $150 million loss in media revenue for the Pac-12. According to the report, USC is the "single biggest drive of football viewership revenue in the conference" and accounts for as much as 30% of media value in the Pac-12.

The report states that USC's move would "represent an estimated impact of almost $10M for each of the remaining 11 Pac-12 campuses."

UCLA's departure would also have a fiscal impact on campuses, but less than USC's.

"Based on media estimates of UCLA's value to the Pac-12 and the yet-to-be-determined media rights deal, the impact of UCLA's departure is expected to be perhaps a third of USC's impact," the report notes.

USC and UCLA's move to the Big Ten in 2024 will likely result in a massive revenue boost for the schools from media-rights deals. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Big Ten's media deal for 2024 could be worth $1 billion a year. When split between 16 schools, that averages to about $62.5 million per school – almost twice what UCLA earned from the Pac-12 two years ago, the Times reported.

Regents also considered new rules that would allow the UC president to decide on matters regarding athletics programs in certain cases. These include cases that would have an "adverse fiscal impact" of 10% or more on the operating revenues of athletic departments on other campuses, that raise the "significant question" of university policy or create a risk of reputation harm to any campus in the university system.

In turn, the new rules would hamstring a campus chancellor's authority to determine membership in athletic conferences, which has been the status-quo since 1991, according to the report. The report notes that UCLA's decision to move to the Big Ten revealed gaps in the university's oversight model, saying "severe time constraints precluded the Regents from being in a position to offer any meaningful input into the decision."

Regents are expected to convene in September to vote on the proposed rule change regarding the delegation of authority.