SEC Commissioner Reached Out To Washington State AD, Stanford AD After PAC 12’s Mass Exodus

Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks at SEC Media Days.

Getty Image

The PAC-12 remains in a state of uncertainty following a mass exodus of conference members. The league will lose eight of its 12 schools at the end of the 2023-24 season raising questions about the future.

A number of reports have surfaced about both potential additions and departures involving the Conference of Champions. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey was one of the notable heads to contact the remaining member universities following the PAC-12’s seeming collapse.

Backing things up a bit, the issues surrounding the league can be directly linked to the pending media rights agreement. While the SEC and Big Ten land massive TV deals, the PAC has been unable to secure a contract.

After swinging and missing with most of the major networks, it appeared that a deal with streaming service Apple would be the likely option. When terms of that agreement were brought to schools, a domino effect began.

The conference had already been informed of USC and UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten, leaving the league with 10 teams. This offseason, Colorado announced its intention to return to the Big XII.

The nine remaining programs then had a decision to make: Take the deal or move to a more lucrative home?

Arizona president Robert Robbins suggested that those nine schools had planned stick together and sign a grant of rights agreement with the PAC-12. That is, until either Oregon or Washington let them know that they’d be joining the Big Ten.

Seeing the loss of another major brand, the remaining university heads rethought the GOR decision, which only led to more attrition.

Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah quickly announced their upcoming moves to the Big XII, which could leave the conference with just four members come 2024-25.

What lies ahead for the lonesome four?

Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, and Washington State are left to pick up the pieces following the mass exodus, and they’ll soon have decisions to make on their own futures.

Options are on the table.

The PAC-12 has insisted that it plans to keep hold of the West Coast programs while adding new members from the Group of Five. A potential merger with the Mountain West Conference has been tossed around, which would get the league up to 16 teams.

It would also bring in some notable brands like Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State, and Utah State each of whom have both a 10-win football season and 20-win basketball season over the last two years. The Aztecs went as far as the NCAA national championship game this past March Madness.

Air Force, Hawaii, Nevada, and UNLV are also well-known programs.

While it wouldn’t replace the losses of national brands like USC, Oregon, and Washington, it would offer some sort of stability.

Of course, there’s also the potential of losing what’s left as outside conferences target Cal, Stanford, OSU, and WSU.

The American Athletic Conference is reported to be interested in adding all four as a package deal, which would give teams an opportunity to stick together. It would also, however, greatly increase travel times for those on the West Coast as the majority of AAC members reside in the Southwest or on the East Coast.

The ACC is also said to be interested in expansion, being linked to both Stanford and Cal. While that move would likely be more lucrative for those two schools, it would break up what’s left of the PAC-12.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey reaches out to PAC-12 ADs.

College football writer Dennis Dodd says that Greg Sankey reached out to two of the remaining PAC-12 programs after the conference’s crumble. He spoke to athletic directors at Stanford and Wazzou, though it doesn’t appear the SEC is interested in adding the schools.

Instead, the commissioner expressed a “tinge of sadness” at seeing the PAC-12 dissolve.

“I take responsibility where we’ve made moves,” Sankey said when speaking with Paul Finebaum on Tuesday. “But there was something different last week about the questions around the existence of the Pac-12 conference, given its long and storied history.

“I don’t have any solutions, but I have great empathy.”

Sankey has stayed firm on his outlook on the Southeastern Conference in realignment. He states that the SEC is in no hurry to expand further following its latest additions of Texas and Oklahoma.

Many of his league’s head coaches have come out in opposition to the recent conference shuffling.

Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz was critical of the moves, noting the potential effects on student-athletes involved in non-revenue sports. Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin echoed those sentiments.

It remains to be seen what will happen to the PAC-12 as the college sports landscape changes.