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Report: Big Ten Presidents OK Commissioner to Look Into Expansion

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According to ESPN’s Pete Thamel’s report, Big Ten presidents met Thursday morning. They gave the ok for the conference’s first-year commissioner, Tony Petitti, to look into further expansion. 

Per Thamel, the Big Ten wants information on PAC 12 schools in Oregon and Washington before making an offer.

In a follow-up tweet, Thamel wrote that no deal is a sure thing yet and that neither addition would give money to any of the current Big Ten schools. 

He also added that USC, which, along with UCLA, announced its plans to move from the PAC 12 to the Big Ten last summer, has said in the past that it doesn’t want any more Big Ten teams from the West Coast, although USC doesn’t have a vote. Thamel wrote that Oregon and Washington “would also have to come to terms with not getting a full share, which isn’t a slam dunk for them.” 

“There’s potential,” Thamel wrote. “But significant roadblocks remain.”

Multiple reports came out Wednesday that the Big Ten is looking to add as many as four teams. That would push its conference total to 20. UCLA and USC will begin competing in 2024, bringing the total to 16. Losing Oregon and Washington would further signal what seems to be the PAC 12’s inevitable demise. Along with the two California schools leaving, Colorado will return to the Big 12.  The Big Ten could also look at Cal and Stanford, two more PAC-12 mainstays. 

The PAC 12 isn’t the only conference suffering. After this season, Oklahoma and Texas leave the Big 12 for the SEC. The ACC hasn’t lost anybody yet, but there’s been word that Clemson and Florida State could be going, and Florida State, in particular, has been vocal about what the conference schools are getting out of the ACC’s current TV deal with ESPN, which started in 2016 and will run through 2036. 

“For us, the alternative of just staying in this conference for the next 13 years and trying to wait for that perfect alignment of the stars is the equivalent of a death by a thousand cuts, and each cut is a $30 million cut over the next 13 years,” FSU trustee Justin Roth said Wednesday. “It’s one thing to take a $30 million cut last year, and it’s another to take another one this year. But to do this for 13 years?”

The Big Ten is sitting pretty TV-wise right now. Agreements with CBS, FOX and NBC, which kicked in last month, will pay the conference around $7 Billion over the next seven years. 

Many eyes are on Petitti, who is only a few months into a pretty important job. The Big Ten tabbed him to succeed Kevin Warren in April. Petitti has worked in the sports and entertainment industries for more than three decades. He spent 11 years with MLB.

He started with the league in 2008, helping launch the MLB Network. Petitti eventually rose to deputy commissioner for Business and Media, a job he held from 2017-19.

From there, he joined the United States Golf Association’s executive committee. Per the USGA’s website, he’s been serving on the organization’s Equipment Standards, Finance and Handicap Committees in 2023.

Before working with MLB, Petitti was a senior executive at ABC, CBS and NBC, supervising television deals for the NFL, NCAA Tournament, PGA Tour and SEC football. At CBS Sports, Petitti was an Executive Vice President and executive producer and was responsible for CBS’ sports programming and production.

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