MINNEAPOLIS — The Big Ten Conference is adding some West Coast flavor, and some University of Minnesota officials are welcoming the two newest members.
After the Big Ten voted unanimously Thursday to add USC and UCLA as the newest additions to the conference, both U of M President Joan Gabel and U of M Athletics Director Mark Coyle used the term "excited" when discussing the additions.
"The additions of USC and UCLA align perfectly with the Big Ten's academic and athletic culture," Gabel said in a statement. "These are two of the most prestigious institutions in the nation and they are grounded in education and research. We are excited about future athletic competition and academic collaboration between 16 of the finest universities in the country."
USC has been a member of the Pac-12 since 1922, while UCLA joined in 1928. The move to the Big Ten, however, should be a step up in football for both universities, both in visibility and competition, according to the Associated Press.
“As the national leader in academics and athletics for over 126 years, the Big Ten Conference has historically evaluated its membership with the collective goal to forward the academic and athletic mission for student-athletes under the umbrella of higher education,” Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “The unanimous vote today signifies the deep respect and welcoming culture our entire conference has for the University of Southern California, under the leadership of President Carol Folt, and the University of California, Los Angeles, under the leadership of Chancellor Gene Block. I am thankful for the collaborative efforts of our campus leadership, athletics directors and Council of Presidents and Chancellors who recognize the changing landscape of college athletics, methodically reviewed each request, and took appropriate action based on our consensus.”
The two schools will join the Big Ten in 2024, making them the first two schools on the West Coast to join the conference, which is primarily made up of Midwest institutions.
"I am excited for USC and UCLA to join the Big Ten and for our student-athletes to be able to compete in league play against the Trojans and the Bruins," said Coyle in a statement. "USC and UCLA are two of the best and most competitive athletic departments in the nation and their presence will bolster the entire conference. These additions will also greatly enhance the student-athlete experience, expand the conference footprint from coast-to-coast and provide fans with compelling matchups and new travel destinations. This is an exciting day for Minnesota, USC, UCLA and the Big Ten."
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