Standing pat: Pac-12 decides it will not explore expansion

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FILE – In this Dec 18, 2020, file photo, Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) throws a pass during the second quarter of an NCAA college football Pac-12 Conference championship game in Los Angeles. About 16 starters return from last season’s Pac-12 South champions, led by third-year starting quarterback Kedon Slovis with USC’s usual wealth of skill-position talent around him. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, File)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif (AP)–The Pac-12 said Thursday it will stand pat with its membership and not look to add schools to the 12-team conference, making it highly unlikely that the Big 12 schools being left behind by Texas and Oklahoma will find new Power Five homes.

The announcement comes two days after the Pac-12, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten pledged to work together on governance issues and scheduling agreements in football and basketball.

The formation of a three-conference alliance was announced a little less than a month after the Southeastern Conference invited Texas and Oklahoma to join the league in 2025, which would coincide with the end of the Big 12’s current television contract.

With Pac-12 expansion off the board, and both the ACC and Big Ten stating publicly that they are content with their current membership, the eight remaining Big 12 schools appear to have limited options beyond sticking together.

“The decision by Texas and Oklahoma led to significant instability in college athletics and I don’t think instability is good for college athletics, particularly given all the other issues that are facing us right now,” Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff told The Associated Press. “I think you heard my colleagues in the ACC and Big Ten agree with that position that we need to bring a stability back to college athletics.”

The Pac-12 appears positioned to reap some of the benefits of expansion, such as games in the Central and Eastern time zones and exposure to new recruiting territory, through the alliance with the Big Ten and ACC.

Kliavkoff had openly talked recently about how the conference had a group of athletic directors and university presidents analyzing the possibility of expansion, and that their work would be finished soon.

Kilavkoff declined to say which schools had reached out to the Pac-12 about membership opportunities, or even how many.

He said part of creating the stability the alliance is aiming for included coming to a quick and transparent decision on expansion.

“We did the work necessary to determine that we were happy with our current makeup and that we think we can thrive with 12,” Kilavkoff said. “It was a unanimous vote of our presidents and chancellors to stay at 12.”

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