Talks between the Big Ten and Oregon and Washington about the two schools switching conferences have become uncertain, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Friday, renewing the possibility the Pac-12 can survive after it appeared in danger of being poached into extinction.
Athletic directors in Big Ten have not fully supported the potential expansion to the Pacific Northwest while the league’s presidents have been more open to the idea, according to the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because nothing was official and both the conferences and schools were not making their decisions public.
During a chaotic morning that had the future composition of three Power Five conferences in limbo, including the Big 12, university presidents and athletic directors across the country were sorting through options.
Pac-12 leaders were meeting to determine if the nine remaining schools would accept at potential media rights deal with Apple, according to a person familiar with that meeting. Another person told AP that Big Ten presidents were scheduled to hold a call around the same time; that person said Washington and Oregon had not receive any formal invitation to the Big Ten.
The Big 12 has been pursuing Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to join Colorado, which announced it was leaving the Pac-12 last week. The Big Ten is already welcoming Pac-12 members USC and UCLA next year.
Former Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren had encouraged member schools to strongly consider adding Oregon and Washington after the conference landed the two Los Angeles schools last summer — the blow that has sent the Pac-12 reeling for more than a year.
The Big 12 then outmaneuvered the Pac-12 and agreed to extension of media rights deals with ESPN and Fox with two years left on its deal. Arizona has been in serious discussions to follow Colorado to the Big 12. Arizona State has needed more convincing, along with Utah.
The Big Ten jumped in this week, seeing a potential opportunity to bring in Oregon and Washington at a reduced payout initially.