Rumblings about an alliance between the three conferences have been circulating for weeks after the SEC added current Big 12 football powers Oklahoma and Texas to its mix.
In football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball, the alliance will include scheduled games between the conferences “as soon as practical.”
In football, particularly, many schools have non-conference games scheduled several years in advance, which means the agreement between the three conferences could take a while to fully form.
“A working group comprised of athletic directors representing the three conferences will oversee the scheduling component of the alliance, including determining the criteria upon which scheduling decisions will be made,” the Big Ten’s announcement reads. “All three leagues and their respective institutions understand that scheduling decisions will be an evolutionary process given current scheduling commitments.”
Big Ten officials said the football scheduling will feature “attractive matchups” across the three conferences while also honoring historic rivalries and college football tradition.
In basketball, the three conferences will add early and mid-season games, as well as annual events that feature “premier matchups” between the three leagues.
The conferences are exploring further action for Olympic sports programs to compete more often.
“The competition will bring a new level of excitement to the fans of the 41 schools while also allowing teams and conferences to have flexibility to continue to play opponents from other conferences, independents and various teams from other subdivisions,” the announcement says.
Future playoff implications
One of the bullet points included in the announcement is that the three conferences are committed to collaborating and providing thought leadership on “postseason championships and future formats.”
Thought it’s not expanded upon further, that likely includes the inevitable expansion of the College Football Playoff. Right now, only four teams make the playoff, and there have been talks about expanding in the future.
The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 likely want to make sure they have a major voice in those discussions, and perhaps even a majority say in any changes. The SEC, especially in adding Texas and Oklahoma, currently has a powerful position that’s strengthened by ESPN’s control over playoff broadcasts.
Non-SEC leagues likely want to bring other potential broadcast partners into the mix to limit ESPN’s power over the process. The “Worldwide Leader In Sports” has a heavy investment in the SEC as the parent station of the SEC Network.
The leagues have also committed to working together when it comes to the “future structure of the NCAA” and “federal legislative efforts” -- two very broad topics.
The announcement doesn’t dive deeper into these points, but the three conferences said they will work together to face off-the-field challenges facing college athletes, including:
- Mental and physical health, safety, wellness and support
- Academic experience and support
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
- Social justice
- Gender equity
“Student-athletes have been and will remain the focal point of the Big Ten, ACC and PAC-12 conferences” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said. “Today, through this alliance, we furthered our commitment to our student-athletes by prioritizing our academics and athletics value systems. We are creating opportunities for student-athletes to have elite competition and are taking the necessary steps to shape and stabilize the future of college athletics.”
“The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 recognize the unique environment and challenges currently facing intercollegiate athletics, and we are proud and confident in this timely and necessary alliance that brings together like-minded institutions and conferences focused on the overall educational missions of our preeminent institutions,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said. “The alliance will ensure that the educational outcomes and experiences for student-athletes participating at the highest level of collegiate athletics will remain the driving factor in all decisions moving forward.”
“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said. “We believe that collaborating together, we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”