In 2024, Colorado subsequently announced their decision to rejoin the Big 12. The Pac-12 has been facing difficulties ever since USC and UCLA revealed their intentions to join the Big Ten. Friday’s mass departure acted as a devastating blow, with six teams leaving within the past 10 days. As a result, over half of the conference has defected in the last 13 months, including the teams that left on Friday.
The future for the four remaining schools in the Pac-12 appears uncertain as the outlook is bleak. Washington State and Oregon State have not been considered as expansion candidates for an existing Power Five conference in the recent wave of realignment. On the other hand, Stanford and its Bay Area rival Cal have been loosely connected to the Big Ten in case they decide to pursue further expansion to a total of 20 members, but no actions have been taken in that direction so far.
On Friday evening, the Pac-12 announced that it is striving to secure the most favorable future for the four remaining schools. Representatives from these institutions convened multiple times on Friday to outline the course of action, as reported by Yahoo Sports. While some individuals were more open in expressing their opinions than others, it was only after representatives from each of the four schools had the opportunity to share their views on the matter.
Numerous forward-looking scenarios were prepared, but they expressed disappointment – a joint statement was released by Athletic Director Chun Pat and President Kirk Schulz of Washington State before the final departures from Washington and Oregon on Friday afternoon.
We alumni, donors, and fans will chart the best path forward together. With incredible support from our Cougar tradition and strong athletes, including exceptional student-athletes, we have prepared for numerous scenarios, including the current situation. “They said we have been diligently working to determine what is next for Washington State Athletics, and we always knew that the outcome of this situation would depend on our collective efforts and hoped that our membership would remain together.”
In 1918, the Cardinal’s affiliation with the league was extended to include the Washington team, with Bernard Muir, the athletic director, and Marc Tessier-Lavigne, the president of Stanford, releasing a joint statement expressing a similar sentiment to the tone taken by Oregon after their defections.
“We are optimistic about Stanford’s future in college athletics and remain committed to excellence. Our primary focus at this time is to make the best decisions and analyze the available options for our student athletes and for Stanford. We are aware of the intended departure of Washington and the University of Oregon from the Pac-12 Conference.”
Cal, like Washington and Oregon, was one of the four charter members of the conference in 1915, with Oregon State being the fourth. The athletic department for the Golden Bears at Berkeley made it clear on Friday that they don’t intend to stand idly by as the forward path is evaluated by the leadership.
We will remain committed to sharing as much information as possible ahead of the days, and we are grateful for the continued support of the extended Cal Family and the community on campus. We are evaluating a variety of options to ensure that our intercollegiate athletics can excel in a manner consistent with our international values, and we will continue to thrive and support our student-athletes. We are not waiting and watching from the sidelines. There are reports that additional universities may have decided to leave the conference a year from now, and we are aware that more peer institutions from the Pac-12, including Washington and Oregon, may be considering similar steps. In a joint statement, Jim Knowlton, the athletic director, and Carol Christ, the chancellor of Cal, said that “we are aware that more peer institutions from the Pac-12, including Washington and Oregon, may be considering similar steps.”
The Oregon State athletic director, Scott Barnes, expressed his anger towards the decisions made by the Pac-12 peers in regards to the conference’s situation. Barnes was notably the most vocal and frustrated among the leaders from the four remaining Pac-12 schools during Friday’s realignment moves, according to The Oregonian.
Some damage has been done that we need to mitigate. I’m furious because this puts our student athletes and university in harm’s way. Traveling to the Eastern seaboard multiple times in a year is not in the best interest of Pac-12 student-athletes. The great tradition and history of this conference has been severely damaged.