Pac-12 starts media rights negotiations amid Big 12's reported interest in poaching teams

The Pac-12 is looking to see what it can get on the open market for its television rights as the Big 12 is reportedly interested in adding some of the conference’s 10 remaining teams.

The conference said Tuesday that its board of directors had “authorized the conference to immediately begin negotiations for its next media rights agreements.” That formal announcement means that Pac-12 schools can see what the financial impacts could be from last week’s shocking departures of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten in 2024. The Pac-12's current media rights deal is up after 2024 and the conference is set to receive far less per school in its future media rights deal than it would with USC and UCLA still slated to be involved.

The Pac-12’s statement was released minutes before a CBS Sports report that said the Big 12 was in discussions to potentially add members from the Pac-12. The four Pac-12 schools primarily mentioned in the CBS report were Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado. Those four are the closest Pac-12 schools to schools in the Big 12 and their possible addition would give the Big 12 five schools in the Mountain Time Zone along with BYU when the Cougars join the conference.

From CBS:

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah were mentioned specifically as the teams being targeted by the Big 12, sources tell CBS Sports. There is also consideration of adding Oregon and Washington to make the Big 12 an 18-team league, the largest in the FBS.

A merger of the Big 12 and Pac-12, in some form, is also a possibility.

"Everything is on the table," said one Big 12 source.

There is "no question" the Big 12 has to be aggressive in expansion, another conference source said.

Meanwhile, the Salt Lake Tribune cited a source that said Utah was committed to the Pac-12.

The Big 12 is set to be at 12 teams after Texas and Oklahoma head to the SEC and BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF join the conference. Adding up to six Pac-12 teams — per the CBS report — could make the Big 12 as large as 18 teams.

The Big Ten and SEC will each have 16 teams after their two new additions join. Oklahoma, Texas, UCLA and USC are all moving conferences for financial reasons. They’re set to get significantly more money from media rights deals in their new homes.

If more teams leave the Pac-12, it’s virtually impossible to see the conference surviving in any form. It’s down to 10 teams without the two Los Angeles schools and there are no obvious candidates for the conference to add in place of them. A potential dissolution of the Pac-12 if more teams leave for the Big 12 (or other conferences) would leave the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC as the four most powerful conferences in college athletics and give them even more leverage in collegiate decision-making.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 03: A general view of the PAC-12 logo at midfield before the PAC-12 Football Championship football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes at Allegiant Stadium on December 03, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
The Pac-12 is facing an uncertain future. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)