Pac-12 Unraveled: Exploring the Factors Behind the End of the Pac-12 Era

Rohit Yaduwanshi
9 Min Read


In the dynamic world of collegiate athletics, the Pac-12 Conference has been a stalwart, boasting a legacy of over a century in the Western United States. With a diverse array of sports across 24 disciplines at the NCAA Division I level, it became synonymous with excellence. However, recent times have seen the conference navigate through uncharted waters, altering its identity and leaving sports enthusiasts in anticipation.

The Pac-12 isn’t your average conference; it’s a captivating tale in the rich history of college football, filled with iconic rivalries, extraordinary athletes, and moments that leave a lasting impact. Its football teams, competing in the esteemed Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), held the torch for excellence in the nation.

Spread across the picturesque states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, the Pac-12’s twelve members are a mix of flagship public universities, additional public institutions, and private research hubs. Together, they formed a powerhouse that once went by various monikers like Big Five, Big Six, Pacific-8, and Pacific-10 before adopting the Pac-12 title in 2011.


Dubbed the “Conference of Champions,” the Pac-12 etched its name in history by clinching more NCAA national championships in team sports than any other conference. The trio of Stanford, UCLA, and USC emerged as perennial contenders, symbolizing the conference’s unparalleled success. Notably, Washington’s women’s rowing team secured the 500th NCAA championship for the Pac-12 in 2017.

However, the narrative took a sudden turn. In 2022, UCLA and USC declared their intention to bid farewell to the Pac-12, opting for the Big Ten Conference by 2024. The domino effect continued with Colorado rejoining the Big 12, and Oregon and Washington following suit by joining the Big Ten. Simultaneously, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah set their sights on the Big 12, leaving the Pac-12 with only four member schools.

Adding another layer to the unfolding drama, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) voted to bring in Stanford, Cal, and SMU on September 1, 2023. This move left the Pac-12 with a skeletal lineup, comprising only Oregon State and Washington State for the 2024–25 season.

In response to these seismic shifts, Oregon State and Washington State took legal action, filing a lawsuit against the Pac-12 and Commissioner George Kliavkoff in an attempt to gain control of the conference and its assets.


As the legal proceedings play out, insiders suggest that the Pac-12 is poised to function as a two-member conference in 2024, a stark departure from its once-thriving composition. The conference aims to navigate this challenging period with a two-year grace period until 2026, seeking to align with NCAA bylaws.

The Pac-12, once a beacon of collegiate sports, now stands at a crossroads, grappling with unprecedented transformations and uncertainties about its future. The unfolding chapters will determine whether this storied conference can redefine itself and regain its former glory.

The Pac-12, a historic powerhouse in college football with over a century of rich history, is in the midst of a profound and unprecedented transformation. The West Coast’s collegiate sports landscape is undergoing a seismic shift as ten out of the twelve participating schools prepare to bid farewell.

This shift marks the conclusion of an era that was defined by storied rivalries, exceptional players, and unforgettable moments in college football. As the conference landscape reshapes, the remaining two schools, Oregon State and Washington State, find themselves standing on uncertain ground, compelled to navigate an unpredictable future.


What’s Happening to the Pac-12?

The Pac-12 is undergoing a metamorphosis driven by a confluence of challenges. Struggling to secure lucrative media rights contracts, the conference found itself trailing behind its peers in major conferences. The combination of financial challenges and a downturn in football competitiveness contributed to a diminished standing, prompting crucial universities to seek affiliations elsewhere. The departure of ten schools signals a profound and permanent transformation in the legacy of the once-dominant Pac-12.

Is the Pac-12 Disappearing?

Yes, the familiar Pac-12 landscape is on the verge of disappearing. By 2024, ten out of twelve member schools will have departed for other conferences, leaving only Oregon State and Washington State as the remnants of the Pac-12. The conference, once a powerhouse in college football, is entering a new phase with a significantly reduced membership.
The departure of renowned universities such as Oregon, Washington, USC, UCLA, and others marks the conclusion of a significant era. The futures of the two remaining schools are uncertain, as they are likely to play with restricted conference affiliations and explore schedule mergers with other conferences.

Why is the Pac-12 Ending?

The demise of the Pac-12 can be attributed to the challenges in securing profitable television deals, a cornerstone for conference stability and revenue. While other major conferences successfully negotiated substantial media rights contracts, the Pac-12 faced difficulties in reaching similar agreements, affecting its overall reputation and financial standing.
The conference’s loss of national relevance, coupled with struggles in revenue-generating sports, especially football, contributed to its decline. Unsuccessful media negotiations further exacerbated the challenges, leading to the current state of transition.

Where Will Pac-12 Teams Play Next Year?

The upcoming college football season will witness a significant reconfiguration of the landscape for former Pac-12 teams. Schools like Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, and Washington are set to join other prestigious conferences such as the Big Ten and the Big 12.

SMU is poised to become an ACC member alongside Stanford and California. Despite this reshuffling, Oregon State and Washington State stand as the only two teams committed to continuing play in the Pac-12. Their future remains uncertain, with the possibility of schedule mergers with other conferences looming on the horizon.

Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions:

What led to the Pac-12’s transformation?

The Pac-12 faced challenges in securing lucrative media rights contracts, coupled with a downturn in football competitiveness. These factors prompted the departure of ten schools and marked a significant shift in the conference’s identity.

Is the Pac-12 completely disappearing?

Yes, in its familiar form, the Pac-12 is on the brink of disappearance. By 2024, ten out of twelve member schools will have left for other conferences, leaving only Oregon State and Washington State.
Why is the Pac-12 losing its major schools?

The Pac-12 struggled to secure profitable television deals, impacting its financial stability and overall attractiveness. The departure of major schools is a consequence of these challenges.

What caused the decline of the Pac-12 in college football?

The Pac-12’s decline in college football can be attributed to struggles in revenue-generating sports, particularly football, and unsuccessful media negotiations. This led to a loss of national relevance.

What is the future for Oregon State and Washington State?

Oregon State and Washington State are set to continue playing in the Pac-12 with a significantly reduced membership. Their future involves exploring restricted conference affiliations and potential schedule mergers with other conferences.

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