What does the future look like for the Big Ten Conference?
That question hung over the opening proceedings of Big Ten media days Tuesday.
As some of his fellow conference commissioners did last week, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren did his best to answer that and other queries regarding a conference many believe to be on its way to becoming a “super conference,” if it isn’t there already.
Here’s what Warren said about the future of the Big Ten, according to transcripts provided by College Press Box.
Will the Big Ten expand any further or are USC and UCLA it?
When news broke that USC and UCLA were leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, the world of collegiate athletics — particularly college football — was shaken.
The Big Ten isn’t exactly done with expansion yet either. The window is still open.
Regarding expansion, I get asked every single day what’s next? It may include future expansion, but it will be done for the right reasons at the right time with our student-athletes, academic and athletic empowerment at the center of any and all decisions that we will make regarding any further expansions.
We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic, it will add additional value to our conference, and it will provide a platform to even have our student-athletes be put on a larger platform so they can build their careers but also that they have an opportunity to grow and learn from an education and from an athletic standpoint.
We are in a perpetual state of evaluating what’s next for college athletics, what’s next for the Big Ten Conference, what’s next for College Football Playoff, what’s next for the NCAA, what’s next for the Transformation Committee, and what’s next for the future of how we operate in this environment called college athletics. Our bowls, our partnerships.
And I’m a big believer that the reason we are dealing with a lot of issues that we are dealing with today is because the business of college athletics has grown faster than the structure and the governance of college athletics. Media rights, we’ve been working on those. I’m incredibly pleased with where we are. We have great opportunities. We’re finalizing our deals, and I look forward to standing before you to make an announcement sometime here, sooner than later. — Kevin Warren
What value do USC and UCLA add to the Big Ten, beside the obvious?
The financial repercussions of USC and UCLA joining the Big Ten are significant, with most estimations suggesting that schools could make as much as $100 million a year from television contacts.
Beyond that though, what do the Trojan and Bruins add to the conference?
What do I think it brings even more to the table than athletics? Athletics is a big component of it, but academics is incredibly important. You look at some of the alumni from USC, the Steven Spielbergs, at UCLA Jackie Robinson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stan Smith from USC. You think of all the diverse, powerful alumni who have a diverse background, academically, athletically. The graduation rates of each one of those two schools is over 92 percent.
One of the things that caught my eye when I was interviewing for this job back in 2019, I studied every one of the universities across the country. One of the things that jumped out about USC, UCLA, and even the market of Los Angeles, we have – they’re the largest section of Big Ten alumni, other than in the Midwest, is in Los Angeles. And there’s so many opportunities that exist across the country. — Kevin Warren
Will USC and UCLA enter the Big Ten as full members?
Unlike many recent additions to Power 5 conferences such as BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12, or even Rutgers and Maryland to the Big Ten in 2014, USC and UCLA won’t have to wait a few years to reap the full benefits of being conference members.
Per Warren, upon entry into the Big Ten in 2024, the Trojans and Bruins will receive a full share of revenue distribution.
Yes, USC and UCLA will come in as full members. We think that’s important for various reasons. They bring a lot of value to our relationship. They bring a lot of panache to our relationship, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Big Ten family here in 2024. — Kevin Warren
Is there any concern about the Big Ten being such a far flung conference?
With the addition of USC and UCLA, the Big Ten is no longer primarily centered on the Midwest, with schools in the Mid Atlantic, Northeast and now the West Coast.
Warren is unconcerned with the distance added, and views the Big Ten’s wide distribution as nothing but a positive.
I think sometimes later time zones on the West Coast, people looked at it as a negative, and I always looked at it as a positive. So for us in the Big Ten to be – we’re in four time zones, we will be in 2024: East, Central, Mountain, and West. So now we’ll be able to provide content all the way from the morning into the night and lead into some really incredible programming.
So I think the value of being across four time zones for multiple reasons is really important. We haven’t finalized the financial impact, and ironically this probably will shock you, the numbers and finances associated with it are typically the last thing that I kind of consider and analyze. It’s important for me from a business standpoint, but from a decision-making process standpoint, always look at all the other reasons why because, if all the other reasons make sense, the finances will take care of themselves.
So I’m looking forward to building a brand to be fortified and strong from Los Angeles to New Jersey and everywhere in between. — Kevin Warren