Thursday, July 25, 2024

Historic summer of realignment kicks off July 1 as Texas, Oklahoma officially join SEC; ACC adds SMU

One of the most transformative days in the history of college athletics is here. The first wave of conference realignment kicks off Monday with Oklahoma and Texas officially joining the SEC — Texas celebrated over the weekend with a Sunday party on campus, featuring a Pitbull concert — and SMU leaving the AAC for the ACC. July 1 also marks the end of the Pac-12 as we know it, as the league is officially dissolving. 

There’s another round of ribbon-cutting coming in August; Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington join the Big Ten on Aug. 2, the same date Arizona State, Colorado and Utah become members of the Big 12 and Cal and Stanford join SMU in the ACC. Oregon State and Washington State are what remains of the Pac-12, and they reached a scheduling agreement in football to play at least six Mountain West games during the 2024 season.

So, how did we get here? The first domino to fall was when Texas and Oklahoma announced their intention to join the SEC in July 2021. The following summer, UCLA and USC jointly announced they were leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big Ten. The Pac-12 failed to secure a media rights deal, prompting eight of the 10 remaining league members to exit.

Here is where conference realignment stands, with the first set of movementing starting July 1.

ACC

  • Who’s joining? SMU (July 1), Cal and Stanford (Aug. 2)

SMU will be the first new conference member to join the ACC on July 1. According to previous reports, Stanford and Cal will will be taking reduced media rights revenue shares of around 30% when they enter the conference on Aug. 2. SMU will forgo ACC media rights revenue for its first nine years.

The ACC is still expected to receive around $72 million in additional media rights revenue as a result of Cal, Stanford and SMU joining with $50 million to $60 million of that revenue being made available for the ACC to distribute as part of either a revised financial model or incentive program. Clemson, Florida State, North Carolina and NC State were originally opposed to ACC expansion and league bylaws stated that 12 of 15 voting members (including Notre Dame) had to vote to approve the expansion. According to reports, NC State flipped to clear the way for them to join the league. 

The impact is the ACC will now have a footprint in Nothern California and the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Big 12

  • Who’s joining? Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah (Aug. 2)

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah will be joining the Big 12 from the Pac-12 on Aug. 2. While Arizona, Arizona State and Utah will be brand new members of the Big 12, Colorado will be joining a conference they have history with. Colorado was one of the founding members of the Big Eight conference in 1947 and spent 15 years as a member of the Big 12 before departing for the Pac-12 in 2011.

Colorado was the first of the four schools to announce its intention to leave the Pac-12 for the Big 12. Colorado didn’t have to pay an exit fee from the conference because its depature came as the same time as the end of the Pac-12 television deal. About a week after Colorado made the announcement, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah followed suit. 

The Big 12 played a heavy role in expansion last summer, adding BYU, Cincinnati Houston and UCF to the conference. With Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the SEC and the “Four Corner” schools joining on Aug. 2, the Big 12 will swell to 16 programs — the largest membership in league history.

Big Ten

  • Who’s joining? Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington (Aug. 2)

You have to go back to the summer of 2022 for the first domino that would essentially “end” the Pac-12. UCLA and USC announced a joint exit to leave the conference in June 2022, eventually creating a ripple effect. With the Pac-12 media rights deal set to expire on June 30, 2024, the Southern California-based programs decided to exit. 

Just over a year after UCLA and USC announced they were leaving, Oregon and Washington followed suit around the same time Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah announced their intention to leave for the Big 12.

Oregon and Washington are charter members of the Pac-12 dating back to 1915. The additions of the four West Coast programs will bring the Big Ten membership total to 18, the largest team conference in college football history.

SEC

  • Who’s joining? Texas and Oklahoma (July 1)

One of the defining moments in the history of college athletics came when Texas and Oklahoma announced their intention to leave the Big 12 for the SEC in July 2021. Initially, Texas and Oklahoma were set to join the SEC in 2025. In Feb. 2023, the Big 12 and both programs announced they would be paying early withdrawal fees of a combined $100 million to join a whole season earlier than originally planned.

Once the Big 12 landed BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, momentum shifted for Oklahoma and Texas to depart following the conclusion of the 2023-24 sports season. The SEC will officially become a 16-member league on July 1.

MORE: Ranking every stadium atmosphere in the SEC, Nos. 1-16

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