• SMU
  • The Pac-12 is inching closer toward remaining a 12-school conference following the departures of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten in the summer of 2024.

    The university presidents discussed SMU and San Diego State as expansion candidates during a meeting last week and approved commissioner George Kliavkoff taking the next step in the complicated process of adding membership, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting.

    Sources emphasized that the approval was informal in nature — the presidents did not vote to add specific schools — but expansion is viewed as highly likely.

    Kliavkoff attended an SMU basketball game on Wednesday night as part of a campus visit, according to the Dallas Morning News.

    It is not known if other schools were discussed last week during the Pac-12 presidents’ quarterly meeting, held at Arizona State.

    Expansion is part of a complicated three-step process in which the Pac-12 must negotiate a new media rights contract with network partners; the schools must agree to sign their media rights over to the conference; and invitations to new members must be extended on a formal basis.

    The Pac-12 has been negotiating a new media agreement since July. Kliavkoff has said that process would come first, followed by the grant-of-rights piece and then expansion.

    But the three tracks were expected to unfold concurrently, sources said, with the conference informing its media partners of expansion plans during contract negotiations and prior to issuing formal invitations.

    Under Pac-12 bylaws, expansion requires a three-fourths vote of the presidents, meaning eight of the 10 schools would have to approve any new members. (USC and UCLA will not participate in expansion proceedings during their final 18 months in the conference.)

    SMU and San Diego State have been obvious candidates all along. Neither would be offered full revenue shares, at least initially, according to sources. Each school is attractive to the Pac-12 for a variety of reasons, including the inventory of games they would add.

    As a 10-team conference, the Pac-12 would have approximately 65 football games available to its media partners, assuming each team played nine conference games and two non-conference home games every season.

    As a 12-team league, the Pac-12 would have approximately 78 games available (assuming two non-conference home games per team).

    Those additional 13 games provide valuable inventory, especially if media partners are interested in weekly programming for Friday nights. (With 10 members, each team would have to play more often on Fridays.)

    In realignment — whether the topic is expansion or media rights — nothing is guaranteed until deals are sealed. But given the increasing likelihood of Pac-12 expansion, the Hotline presents a brief overview of the top targets.


    Location: San DiegoType: PublicUndergraduate enrollment: 36,000 (approx)Endowment: $350 million (approx)Research level: R2 (second-highest designation)U.S. News ranking: 151st in national universitiesMedia market: 1.13 million homes (per Nielsen/2021 DMA)Conference: Mountain WestPresidential fact: SDSU president Adela de la Torre grew up in the Bay Area and owns three degrees from Cal.School fact: Last year, California passed a law allowing California State Universities to offer independent doctorates in Public Health, an important step for CSU campuses to bolster their academic bona fides. (Previously, CSUs were allowed to confer doctorates only in partnership with private colleges or University of California schools.) The change is viewed as an important step for SDSU in becoming an R1 research school.Football facts: SDSU is a founding member of the Mountain West in 1998. The Aztecs have won at least 10 games in five of the past six seasons (excluding 2020) and have regularly beaten Pac-12 opponents under coaches Rocky Long and Brady Hoke. SDSU football alumni include Marshall Faulk and Joe Gibbs. In 2022, the Aztecs opened Snapdragon Stadium, which has a capacity of 35,000 but can expand to hold 55,000.

    (Endowment source: National Association of College and University Business Officers)


    Location: DallasType: PrivateUndergraduate enrollment: 6,800 (approx)Endowment: $2.0 billion (approx)Research level: R2 (second-highest designation)U.S. News ranking: 72nd in national universitiesMedia market: 2.96 million homes (per Nielsen/2021 DMA)Conference: American AthleticPresidential fact: SMU president Gerald Turner is a former chair of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.School fact: SMU is affiliated with the United Methodist Church (UMC) but, in 2019, moved to “update its governance documents to make it clear that SMU is solely maintained and controlled by its Board as the ultimate authority for the University,” according to a statement from Turner. The UMC fought the move, but a Dallas judge ruled in favor of SMU two years later.Football facts: SMU has a strong football history but is the only school to receive the death penalty from the NCAA (in the late 1980s). The list of famous football alumni includes Doak Walker, Don Meredith and Eric Dickerson. Since the collapse of the Southwest Conference, the Mustangs have been members of the WAC, Conference USA and the American. They struggled for traction but won 10 games in 2019 (under Sonny Dykes) and have been bowl-eligible for four consecutive years.

    (Endowment source: SMU investments office)

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