The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 announced an alliance Tuesday that will work together “on a collaborative approach surrounding the future evolution of college athletics and scheduling” with a clear eye on the growing power of the SEC.
Conference officials have been discussing the idea for weeks, but commissioners Kevin Warren of the Big Ten, Jim Phillips of the ACC and George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 — all relatively new to their positions —- acknowledged the plan publicly for the first time.
“There’s no contract. There’s no signed document. There doesn’t need to be,” Kliavkoff said.
The move comes less than a month after the Southeastern Conference invited Texas and Oklahoma to join the league and create a 16-school league by 2025. The move sent shockwaves through college athletics and will leave the Big 12 without its two premier schools in the paydirt sport of football.
The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 hope its alliance of 41 schools that span from Miami to Seattle leads to stability at the top of big-time college sports and thwarts future realignment.
“It’s exciting for the Pac-12 to collaborate with the incredible institutions in the Big Ten and ACC in such a profound way, aligning 41 world-class institutions,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “To be tethered to such like-minded institutions, not only in scheduling, but in matters of governance, will beneficial for the University of Utah and the Pac-12. This will enhance our student-athletes’ experience and bring additional value to our great fans. The specifics from a scheduling standpoint will take time to be developed, but to have that North Star to point to will be a unifying feature of this alliance.”
The alliance is also being formed as the NCAA begins the process of handing off more responsibility to conferences and schools to run college sports, and with a proposal to expand the College Football Playoff in the pipeline.
The scheduling piece could lead to multiple non-conference football games per season between the league members, creating new and valuable television inventory.
Just how soon that might happen wasn’t clear: Nonconference football schedules are typically made years in advance and many schools already have mostly full slates in the coming seasons.
For example, Ohio State has a home-and-home series with Alabama set for 2027 and 2028. It is unclear how an ACC-Big Ten-Pac-12 alliance would account for future games already in place and traditional ACC-SEC rivalries such as Clemson-South Carolina and Georgia-Georgia Tech.
An alliance involving the conferences could impact basketball scheduling more immediately, where schedules are usually made months, instead of years, in advance.