Stamford Advocate

ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 form alliance to ‘protect the collegiate model’


Facing a rapidly shifting landscape in college sports, the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 have agreed to work together with the goal of creating stability during a volatile time.

Less than a month after the Southeaste­rn Conference made an expansion power play by inviting Texas and Oklahoma to the league, three of the SEC’s Power Five peers countered with the creation of an alliance of 41 schools that span from Miami to Seattle.

During a 45-minute video conference Tuesday, the commission­ers of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 pledged broad collaborat­ion on myriad issues and committed to league members playing more football and basketball games against each other in football and basketball.

They also suggested they wouldn’t be poaching each others schools.

“The history of college athletics, one expansion of a conference has usually led to another to another and to another,” ACC Commission­er Jim Phillips said. “And to the three of us, we felt the stabilizat­ion of the current environmen­t, across Division I and FBS — in Power Five in particular — this was a chance for a new direction, a new initiative that I don’t think has ever been done before.”

After weeks of discussion­s, the alliance is still mostly conceptual and collegial.

“There’s no contract. There’s no signed document,“Pac-12 Commission­er George Kliavkoff said. “There’s an agreement among three gentlemen and a commitment from 41 presidents and chancellor­s and 41 athletic directors to do what we say we’re going to do.”

The SEC sent shockwaves through college athletics when it was revealed that Texas and Oklahoma would be leaving the Big 12 to join the nation’s most powerful football conference no later than 2025.

“I wouldn’t say this is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, but to be totally candid you have to evaluate what’s going on in the landscape of college athletics,” Big Ten Commission­er Kevin Warren said.

As for the Big 12, its future is murky at best as the eight remaining members plot their next moves and try to work out a divorce from the Longhorns and Sooners. The realignmen­t of Texas and Oklahoma could eventually lead the Power Five to shrink to four.

“We want and need the Big 12 to do well,” Phillips said. “The Big 12 matters in college athletics.”

But it will not be part of the alliance.

The alliance is also being formed as the NCAA shakes off a Supreme Court loss and considers handing off more responsibi­lity to conference­s and schools to run college sports. The NCAA Board of Governors has called a special constituti­onal convention in November, the first step toward what could be sweeping reform and a decentrali­zed governance model.

“We did the alliance to protect the collegiate model,” said Kliavkoff, who is only in his second month on the job of leading the Pac-12 after serving as president of sports and entertainm­ent for MGM Resorts Internatio­nal in Las Vegas.

There is also a proposal to expand the College Football

Playoff from four to 12 teams currently in the pipeline. The proposal was crafted by SEC Commission­er Greg Sankey, Big 12 Commission­er Bob Bowlsby, Mountain West Commission­er Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, and unveiled publicly in June.

Kliavkoff and Warren both said their conference­s support playoff expansion, while Phillips said the ACC had not landed on a final position.

The commission­ers and university presidents are scheduled to meet in late September in Chicago to discuss what comes next for the expansion proposal.

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