On Tuesday, ACC Commissioner James Phillips, Pac 12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, and Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren held a joint press conference to announce an “historic alliance” between the three respective athletic conferences.

“The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 today announced an historic alliance that will bring 41 world-class institutions together on a collaborative approach surrounding the future evolution of college athletics and scheduling.

“The alliance – which was unanimously supported by the presidents, chancellors and athletics directors at all 41 institutions – will be guided in all cases by a commitment to, and prioritization of, supporting student-athlete well-being, academic and athletic opportunities, experiences and diverse educational programming. The three conferences are grounded in their support of broad-based athletic programs, the collegiate model and opportunities for student-athletes as part of the educational missions of the institutions.

“The three conferences remain competitors in every sense but are committed to collaborating and providing thought leadership on various opportunities and challenges facing college athletics, including:

  • Student-athlete mental and physical health, safety, wellness and support
  • Strong academic experience and support
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Social justice
  • Gender equity
  • Future structure of the NCAA
  • Federal legislative efforts
  • Postseason championships and future formats

“The alliance includes a scheduling component for football and women’s and men’s basketball designed to create new inter-conference games, enhance opportunities for student-athletes, and optimize the college athletics experience for both student-athletes and fans across the country. The scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations.”

A full press release was sent out just prior to the press conference detailing why this is happening now and what it means moving forward. The three commissioners then took questions during the session, the highlights of which can be found below. At the end of these updates you will find the press release sent out by the three conferences.

Updates from the commissioners

  • It became clear through conversations that the three conferences shared a collective vision academically and athletically. They want to continue to provide first-class experiences for their student-athletes.
  • Warren thanked the other two commissioners and the media members who have covered all three conferences. “We really do appreciate it.”
  • Warren says today is a good day and “signifies that there is still a lot of goodness in college athletics.” There is turbulence in college athletics and they need good leadership “to figure a lot of these issues out.” The hope is that this alliance will help stabilize college athletics and also provide an opportunity for student-athletes to play in some “epic matchups.”
  • “We need to make sure we keep academics first.” — Kevin Warren.
  • George Kliavkoff: More substantive changes have come down in college sports in the last three months than at any time previously. “The foundation of college sports is in many respects in turmoil.” There is now an opportunity to re-evaluate their ways.
  • Does the alliance favor the proposed playoff changes? The working group did a great job but the summer was supposed to be spent discussing the pros and cons. The ACC hasn’t made a final decision on how they will vote per Phillips. The discussion started at the CEO level and has gone down to the student-athletes.
  • Warren: “I’m a big believer in expanding the college football playoff. I’m also a big believer in being methodical.” But there are so many issues that still need to be analyzed. “We’re still unpacking this information.” When the decision is made, they need to make sure they have an inclusive voice.
  • The Pac 12 is 100% in favor of expansion of the playoffs, but there is still work that needs to be done on the margins.
  • There are already existing relationships between the Big Ten and both the ACC and Pac 12 per Warren. What this allows them to do is focus on the existing games they have and how do they build those storylines, and then how can they add to the schedules.
  • The Big Ten will honor the existing scheduling contracts.
  • There is no signed contract. “There is an agreement between three gentlemen…” that has been signed off on by athletic directors and presidents. “There’s no signed document and there doesn’t need to be.”
  • Kliavkoff said there may be increased revenues based on this alliance, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to protect the current athletic model.
  • Asked if they feared for the survival of the Big XII, Warren said he has the utmost respect for Big XII commissioner Bob Bowlsby. He said he is confident Bowlsby will do what’s best for his conference. Phillips said it’s important for everyone that the Big XII survives.
  • Kliavkoff said there is no intention to increase the number of regular season football games, or limiting the kinds of games they can schedule.
  • Asked why they don’t have legal documents binding them together, Phillips said it’s about trust and they’ve looked each other in the eye and have committed to the same level of support and connection to one another. If it takes binding contracts to get something like this done, then they’ve lost their way.
  • How much was the SEC’s expansion with Texas and Oklahoma a factor in this alliance being formed? Warren said he has great respect for the SEC. Former SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was a great factor in his life. His son is an SEC graduate. The Autonomous Five commissioners speak all the time. The SEC’s move allowed everybody to take a step back and see where things might be going. “From where we sit, we have to be aware of what’s going on.” This isn’t a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC, but you have to evaluate the landscape of college athletics. Phillips added that in the history of college athletics, one expansion has usually led to another and another and another. They felt this was the chance for a new direction and a new initiative to help the stabilization. “We’re proud of it. We really are.”
  • Kevin Warren is asked if the Big Ten would need to go down to eight conference games in football because of this alliance. He said they are exploring that. Kliavkoff said the Pac 12 is contractually obligated to TV partners to play nine conference games, but he thinks there is “a compelling argument” to move to eight games because the replacement games against the B1G and ACC would also be attractive.

Full Press Release from the Big Ten, ACC, and Pac 12.

ACC, BIG TEN AND PAC-12 ANNOUNCE HISTORIC ALLIANCE

41 World-Class Institutions Across Three Autonomy 5 Conferences to Collaborate on the Future Evolution of College Athletics and an Inter-Conference Scheduling Alliance

GREENSBORO, NC & ROSEMONT, IL & SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 today announced an historic alliance that will bring 41 world-class institutions together on a collaborative approach surrounding the future evolution of college athletics and scheduling.

The alliance – which was unanimously supported by the presidents, chancellors and athletics directors at all 41 institutions – will be guided in all cases by a commitment to, and prioritization of, supporting student-athlete well-being, academic and athletic opportunities, experiences and diverse educational programming. The three conferences are grounded in their support of broad-based athletic programs, the collegiate model and opportunities for student-athletes as part of the educational missions of the institutions.

The three conferences remain competitors in every sense but are committed to collaborating and providing thought leadership on various opportunities and challenges facing college athletics, including:

  • Student-athlete mental and physical health, safety, wellness and support
  • Strong academic experience and support
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Social justice
  • Gender equity
  • Future structure of the NCAA
  • Federal legislative efforts
  • Postseason championships and future formats

The alliance includes a scheduling component for football and women’s and men’s basketball designed to create new inter-conference games, enhance opportunities for student-athletes, and optimize the college athletics experience for both student-athletes and fans across the country. The scheduling alliance will begin as soon as practical while honoring current contractual obligations. A working group comprised of athletic directors representing the three conferences will oversee the scheduling component of the alliance, including determining the criteria upon which scheduling decisions will be made. All three leagues and their respective institutions understand that scheduling decisions will be an evolutionary process given current scheduling commitments.

The football scheduling alliance will feature additional attractive matchups across the three conferences while continuing to honor historic rivalries and the best traditions of college football.

In women’s and men’s basketball, the three conferences will add early and mid-season games as well as annual events that feature premier matchups between the three leagues.

The three conferences will also explore opportunities for the vast and exceptional Olympic Sports programs to compete more frequently and forge additional attractive and meaningful rivalries.

The future scheduling component will benefit student-athletes and fans by offering new and memorable experiences that will extend coast-to-coast, across all time zones. The competition will bring a new level of excitement to the fans of the 41 schools while also allowing teams and conferences to have flexibility to continue to play opponents from other conferences, independents and various teams from other subdivisions.

“The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 recognize the unique environment and challenges currently facing intercollegiate athletics, and we are proud and confident in this timely and necessary alliance that brings together like-minded institutions and conferences focused on the overall educational missions of our preeminent institutions,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “The alliance will ensure that the educational outcomes and experiences for student-athletes participating at the highest level of collegiate athletics will remain the driving factor in all decisions moving forward.”

“Student-athletes have been and will remain the focal point of the Big Ten, ACC and PAC-12 Conferences” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “Today, through this alliance, we furthered our commitment to our student-athletes by prioritizing our academics and athletics value systems. We are creating opportunities for student-athletes to have elite competition and are taking the necessary steps to shape and stabilize the future of college athletics.”

“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” said Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. “We believe that collaborating together we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences include:

  • World-leading academic institutions committed to the shared values of supporting the next generation of leaders.
  • Innovative research that benefits communities around the world.
  • 27 of the 34 Autonomy 5 members in Association of American Universities (AAU).
  • 34 institutions ranked in the Top 100 national universities by US News & World Report.
  • Broad-based athletic and academic programs.
  • A long heritage of leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Over 27,000 student-athletes competing on 863 teams in 31 sports.
  • A combined 1,019 NCAA Championships.
  • Longstanding relationships across bowl partnerships, men’s and women’s basketball challenges and Olympic Sport events.
  • 194 Olympic medals won in Tokyo by current, former and future student-athletes.
  • Some of the most iconic and historic venues in college sports.
  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in direct annual institutional support of student-athlete scholarships.
  • Over $15 billion in annual federal research support, nearly one-third of the total across all colleges and universities.

Quotes from the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 CEO chairs:

Duke University President & Chair of the ACC Board of Directors Vincent E. Price
“The alliance is first and foremost a statement about the vital connection of academic excellence to college athletics.  Our members include 41 of the top public and private universities in the world which will soon have new ways to compete at the very highest levels in sports, and to collaborate in education, research and service to society.  Together we will be able to use our strong voice and united vision to create the best possible experience for our student-athletes and institutions.”

University of Wisconsin Chancellor and Big Ten Conference Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) Chair Dr. Rebecca Blank:
“The Big Ten Conference has always prioritized academic excellence as well as athletic excellence for student-athletes. Today’s announcement reinforces the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness among all members of this alliance and provides additional opportunities for our student-athletes to enhance their collegiate experience.”

University of Oregon President & Chair of the Pac-12 Board of Directors Michael Schill
“The Pac-12 is thrilled to join with so many world-class universities in a collaborative effort to support our student-athletes through an unwavering commitment to excellence in academics and athletics.Together we can help shape a future for college athletics where broad-based athletic programs in concert with educational opportunities allow us to support the next generation of leaders.”

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2 Comments

  1. What the hell is the point if they don’t all have to vote together? I hope they are playing coy here, but I think that’s above Karen Warren’s skill level.

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