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ACC’s Expansion All But Seals Pac-12’s Fate

  • Oregon State, Washington State have a pair of prevailing options after ACC expansion
  • Latest moves extend the wildest round of conference realignment in college sports history
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Pac-12 is now headed for potential dissolution, thanks to Friday’s expected but still startling move of Stanford and Cal to the ACC along with SMU — extending the wildest round of conference realignment in college sports history.

Despite stated objections from existing members such as North Carolina and Florida State over revenue-distribution concerns, the ACC will become the latest, coast-to-coast conference with a geographic footprint from Florida to California, beginning with the 2024-25 academic year. 

The Pac-12 now has only two members for next year and beyond, Oregon State and Washington State — and both schools are actively being sought by the Mountain West Conference.

A pair of prevailing options are now in front of Oregon State and WSU:

  • The schools could join the MWC in a straightforward shift. The AAC — which had previously shown interest in adding Oregon State and WSU — said Friday it will no longer consider schools in the Pacific time zone, citing travel concerns.
  • They could seek to rebuild the Pac-12 by recruiting other schools or executing a reverse merger with the MWC.

WSU president Kirk Schulz said earlier this week that his school prefers the latter option, but that remains by far the most complex scenario. Also, it will be impossible for a rebuilt Pac-12 to land the lucrative media rights deal crucial to its survival without first solidifying a critical mass of members.

“Our market size, eyeballs on television, did not create the leverage needed to be in a different circumstance,” Scott Barnes, Oregon State athletic director, said Friday. “That said, we will find the right place for our student-athletes, and the highest and best place for them to compete.”

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