The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are actively engaged in discussions about forming an alliance, The Athletic’s Max Olson reported Friday. Such an alliance, which would primarily be focused on college football scheduling, could create a pact between the three Power Five conferences in an effort to counter the recently expanded SEC that is attempting to gain power and influence across collegiate athletics.
This comes on the heels of the SEC formally accepting Texas and Oklahoma as its newest conference members following the 2024-25 season. An alliance between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 would be an attempt to match the SEC’s television inventory and notoriety while strengthening their standings in college sports’ ever-changing landscape.
“I can’t comment on anything in that report. We have no additional information to share,” Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd on Friday. “… I’ve been in frequent and regular contact with all the [Autonomy Five] commissioners the last few weeks about the four or five complex issues we’re facing as an industry.”
With the Big 12’s top two programs joining the SEC and this potential alliance including three of the remaining four power conferences, the Big 12 could find itself in particularly dire straits.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby met with Kliavkoff earlier in August to discuss a scheduling alliance or potential merger. However, Olson reports those discussions were more “introductory and exploratory.”
How an alliance between the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 might work remains a mystery, but as a trio, they could work together to combat the SEC’s power, which has only grown since adding Texas and Oklahoma to what will soon be a 16-team superconference.
There’s no formal agreement between the three leagues at this time, but The Athletic reports that all three of the conference’s commissioners have been discussing the possibility for “several weeks” with working together a “likely outcome.”
Bubbling beneath the surface of such a move is the pressure for all three leagues — two of which are under leadership of commissioners in their first year on the job — to strengthen their conference’s positions and to counter the SEC’s power move from this summer.
The matter of the recently-announced NCAA Constitution Committee that could shape the future of college athletics should also be considered. The committee’s formation this week may have played a role in the timing of such an alliance emerging as an option, given its stated goal is in part to “propose a new governance model that allows for quicker change without sacrificing broader values.”
Separately, the three leagues would not have the power of the SEC. Together, however, they would brandish a 41-to-16 voting edge if all teams from the three leagues were to be in lockstep on key issues.
Forging ahead with a three-conference alliance would allow for the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 to work cohesively in affecting change on the subject of College Football Playoff expansion. Expanding from four teams to 12 teams has seemed likely but appears a complicated path. With the SEC expanding, at least one league commissioner, the Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff, has spoken on the record and said playoff expansion must, at the very least, be reconsidered.
Dodd reported last month that Kliavkoff is “supported by three other Power Five conference commissioners and some of the most powerful college administrators in the country.” The CFP requires a unanimous vote of the conferences to approve playoff expansion, so any in opposition of expansion, especially a three-league alliance, could serve as a major hurdle in future efforts.