Cal and Stanford announce departure of PAC-12 for ACC

Courtesy of PAC-12 conference.
Courtesy of PAC-12 conference.

On Friday morning, two more schools announced that they are departing the PAC-12, leaving the conference with just two teams remaining.

The University of California Berkeley and Stanford University announced they will leave PAC-12 for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2024.

The two schools depart alongside eight other schools, leaving the conference in 2024, which coincides with the end of the current PAC-12 media deal. According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel, they won’t have to pay an exit fee from the conference.

The unprecedented realignment moves that have occurred put the future of the PAC-12 Conference in jeopardy and leave the future of Oregon State University uncertain. How this will affect OSU remains to be seen, as there is much to sort out while Oregon State continues to look for a new home either in the PAC-12 or elsewhere.

In a Zoom press conference, OSU President Jayathi Murthy and Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Scott Barnes answered questions from reporters after the news broke. The press conference offered few specifics on what Oregon State’s plans were, and both Murthy and Barnes did not take any verbal questions from reporters.

Murthy and Barnes did reiterate that Oregon State’s priority is to rebuild the PAC-12 Conference while simultaneously looking at options outside of the PAC-12 Conference.   

“We continue to pursue all measures in our control to sustain the values of the PAC-12 and to create opportunities both inside and outside of the conference,” Murthy said.

Barnes said that they had schools reach out to them about joining the PAC-12 along with Washington State but didn’t comment on who those schools are.

Barnes also did not comment on whether Oregon State will pursue its rivalry with the University of Oregon.

Barnes said the athletics departments will have less revenue, regardless of whether Oregon State stays in the PAC-12. Oregon State will not cut any of the 16 NCAA sports it currently sponsors.

“The revenues that we will receive will be less. Our priority in that is what it’s always has been, and that’s to retain a very high level, vibrant, holistic student-athlete experience … how much less? Not certain yet.’’ Barnes said.

Barnes and Murthy both mentioned that in these negotiations, Oregon State had been passed over as a result of its media market size, which did not provide enough monetary value to TV networks like FOX and ESPN.

“I’m sorry that a top 20 football team ends up where we are because of focus on media rights and media valuation,” Murthy said.

Murthy provided no firm timeline for a decision about OSU’s future beyond 2024-2025. However, she mentioned that the Oregon State community won’t have to wait very long for a decision.

In a separate statement to the OSU community on Friday, Murthy mentioned that they had been preparing for the eventuality of Cal and Stanford leaving.

While not inevitable, this was one of several possible scenarios, and we are prepared for it. We will continue pursuing all opportunities within our control to preserve the Pac-12 or identify a new conference home for OSU Athletics,” Murthy said.  

Oregon State and Washington State were waiting for a decision from Stanford and Cal before this news was announced. One option pursued was rebuilding the PAC-12 with the four remaining schools and extending offers to other schools to join the conference.

The Atlantic Conference Coast presidents and chancellors met Friday morning and voted to add both Stanford and Cal as well as Southern Methodist University, which was named as a potential expansion candidate for the PAC-12. The vote to add these three schools will bring the membership of the ACC to 18 members.

Cal, Stanford, and SMU to the Atlantic Coast Conference will join the conference at a reduced share in revenue from the ACC. According to Thamel, SMU is expected to come into the conference with no broadcast media revenue, and both Cal and Stanford will receive a partial share of ACC revenues.

According to Thamel, Cal and Stanford will see their shares increase over time, but that likely won’t be enough to offset travel costs with their membership in the ACC.  Thamel also mentioned that the athletics department at Cal is currently facing a $100 million debt, which will severely affect them financially before they earn more revenue from the ACC.

With 10 schools leaving the PAC-12 Conference after 2024, options for Oregon State and Washington State outside of the PAC-12 Conference have dwindled.

Outside of rebuilding the PAC-12, both Washington State and Oregon State have had conversations with the Mountain West Conference, according to former Oregonian sportswriter John Canzano.

However, Barnes and Murthy did not comment on specifics surrounding those discussions in Friday’s Zoom press conference.

We’re in a unique circumstance where we can’t share a lot of information. It is highly complex negotiations that are going on,” Barnes said.

Oregon State football opens its season on Sunday against San Jose State University on the road. Kick-off time is at 12:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on CBS.

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