Coaches, Players Rip Conference Realignment For Its Effects On Non-Revenue Sports

PAC 12 logos on a set of softballs.

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Conference realignment has destroyed the PAC 12 as we know it. Eight members of the league have announced their intentions to leave by 2024.

The decisions come down to the almighty dollar as schools chase greener pastures in more lucrative homes. Unfortunately, it could have an adverse effect on non-revenue sports.

USC and UCLA got the action rolling when they decided to depart for the Big Ten. A year later, they’d be joined by Oregon and Washington.

Four other PAC 12 members opted to head to the Big XII this offseason, too, in Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah.

The movement coincides with the conference’s unsuccessful media rights negotiations. As the rest of the Power Five secures large cable network contracts, the PAC 12 is still without an agreement.

They’ve swung and missed with the major players, leading many to believe that streaming service Apple is the top option.

By hopping conferences, universities will land boatloads more in revenue. Take the Big Ten, for example, who recently signed a $1 billion deal with FOX, CBS, and NBC, which will be spread throughout to its affiliates.

Everyone knows the changes are directly linked to money made in football and basketball, but what happens to the non-revenue sports?

Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz comments on the negative side of realignment.

Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz took a strong stance on conference realignment after seeing the movement in the PAC 12. He understands why it was done, but that doesn’t mean he agrees with everything that’s going on.

Drinkwitz notes the cons of realignment and its short-sided outlook on the rest of college sports.

“We’re talking about a football decision they based off football,” the coach said. “But what about softball and baseball who have to travel cross country? Did we ask about the cost to them?”

PAC 12 players speak out against conference realignment.

As Coach Drinkwitz mentions in his press conference, realignment will affect travel, rest, and family. He also notes that non-revenue sports will likely be impacted more negatively due to budgetary constraints and scheduling.

He singles out softball and baseball players, who don’t have the luxury of playing one game per week. They’re also attending school on a partial scholarship and are far more limited in NIL opportunities.

And how about family? It’s going to be much more difficult for a Washington baseball player’s parents to travel cross-country to Rutgers than to take a road trip to Oregon State.

A number of PAC 12 softball players responded over the weekend to the recent realignment news, voicing their frustrations online.

Yes, conference realignment will be more lucrative for some parties, but at what cost?