USC and UCLA could be joining the Big Ten Conference as soon as 2024 after league officials voted Thursday to approve the schools’ application for membership.
The move is just the latest in a wave of realignment among college football powers, moving away from the strictly regional model that had organized the sport for more than a century.
In two years, the Big Ten will stretch from coast to coast with campuses from California to New Jersey.
USC athletic director Mike Bohn called the conference "the best home for USC" in a statement on Thursday night.
"Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports," he said. "We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference."
UCLA chancellor Gene D. Block and AD Martin Jarmond also released a combined statement Thursday, announcing the move.
"Each school faces its own unique challenges and circumstances, and we believe this is the best move for UCLA at this time," they said. "For us, this move offers greater certainty in rapidly changing times and ensures that we remain a leader in college athletics for generations to come."
With Oklahoma and Texas scheduled to join the SEC and both L.A. rivals headed to the Big Ten, many pundits have predicted continued movement until two giant leagues contain all the sport’s traditional powers.
According to multiple reports, USC and UCLA initiated conversations with the Big Ten. The sides first met on Wednesday, with the unanimous membership vote coming just 24 hours later.
The Pac-12 loses two charter members while negotiating a new media rights deal and leaving the conference scrambling to keep up in the realignment arms race.
Since receiving news that Oklahoma and Texas were leaving, the Big 12 has arranged for new members in Cincinnati, UCF, Houston and BYU.
The Pac-12 will now likely look for new members of its own in order to keep up.
"While we are extremely surprised and disappointed by the news coming out of UCLA and USC today, we have a long and storied history in athletics, academics and leadership in supporting student-athletes that we're confident will continue to thrive and grow into the future," the Pac-12 said in a statement.
The Big Ten is currently negotiating its own media rights deal that is expected to exceed $1 billion annually.