The University of Southern California will take the historic step of joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024, a move that will position USC and its student-athletes for long-term success in both athletics and academics.
“Over the past three years, we have worked hard to ground our university decisions in what is best for our students,” said USC President Carol L. Folt. “With the Big Ten, we are joining a storied conference that shares our commitment to academic excellence and athletic competitiveness, and we are positioning USC and our student-athletes for long-term success and stability amidst the rapidly evolving sports media and collegiate athletics landscapes. We are delighted to begin this new chapter in 2024.”
The Big Ten Conference has voted to accept both USC and crosstown rival UCLA as full members of the conference effective August 2, 2024, enabling both schools to remain in the Pac-12 Conference for the duration of the Pac-12’s existing media rights agreements.
“Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports,” Athletic Director Mike Bohn said. “We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.”
USC also shared that, beginning this upcoming academic year, all student-athletes, whether on scholarship or not, will have the opportunity to receive up to $5,980 annually in direct financial support in the form of academic achievement awards, consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent Alston ruling. The specific details and criteria for the Alston awards will be disclosed prior to the start of the upcoming fall semester.
USC has more than 550 student-athletes who compete in 21 sports, and they are supported by more than 250 coaches and staff. Trojan teams have won 134 national championships, and men and women have taken home 483 individual NCAA titles. The USC football program, which competes in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, has won 11 national championships, competed in 34 Rose Bowls (with 25 wins), and produced 519 NFL draft picks. USC athletes also have won 326 Summer Olympics medals, with 153 of them being gold. In 2021, USC posted its highest-ever NCAA Graduation Success Rate (92 percent).
Message from President Carol L. Folt to the USC Community
Dear Trojan Community,
I am writing with exciting news about the future for our student-athletes and university community. We are announcing today that USC will join the Big Ten Conference, with plans to begin membership in August 2024. This decision was made after serious deliberation and analysis, and with great appreciation and respect for our Pac-12 colleagues with whom we have enjoyed a wonderful history and relationship.
We have worked hard over the past three years to ground university decisions in what is best for our students. One of our priorities was to build a student-centric athletics program deeply committed to ensuring that all our student-athletes can compete at the highest level athletically and achieve at the highest level academically. We have made that a reality under our terrific athletic director, Mike Bohn, along with his leadership team, coaches, staff and, of course, our student-athletes.
Reflecting that commitment, we also announced today that all USC student-athletes — regardless of scholarship status — will have the opportunity to receive direct financial support in the form of Alston academic achievement awards beginning in the upcoming academic year.
Our move to the Big Ten positions USC for long-term success and stability amidst the rapidly changing sports media and collegiate athletic landscapes. Equally important, we are joining a conference that shares our values of academic excellence, athletic competitiveness and diversity and inclusion across all sports. The enhanced resources from this move will enable additional support for our student-athletes as well as benefit initiatives surrounding academics, accessibility and affordability.
In analyzing a move to the Big Ten, we thoughtfully considered the prospect of additional travel for our student-athletes. We are committed to devoting the necessary resources to ensure our student-athletes can continue to thrive in their coursework with minimal travel disruption. We know the Big Ten shares our commitment to prioritizing student-athletes’ well-being and academic demands, and we are fortunate we can spend the next two years working with the conference on travel and scheduling plans.
We are especially pleased that our crosstown rival, UCLA, will join us in the Big Ten in 2024. While we are fierce competitors on the field, we have a rich tradition of collaboration that we are excited to continue. As we begin to plan for our move, please know we will do everything we can to preserve the wonderful traditions and rivalries we have built in the Pac-12 that our students, alumni and fans have enjoyed for decades.
Please see statements on our move to the Big Ten from Mike Bohn and from Suzanne Nora Johnson, Chair of the USC Board of Trustees.
While today’s decision is the culmination of extraordinary efforts by so many, it is only the beginning of our journey to the Big Ten. Though we may not have every question answered today, we will by August 2024. In the next few weeks, we will be reaching out to all our constituencies to discuss our announcement in more detail and to offer opportunities to ask questions surrounding our future in the Big Ten.
I want to thank our entire Trojan Family — generations of loyal Trojans who have supported and loved USC for more than 100 years. We could not do what we do every day without you, and we hope you are as excited as we are about what’s to come.
In the meantime, I wish you all a happy and safe rest of the summer.
Carol L. Folt
Full Statement from Athletic Director Mike Bohn
I am beyond thrilled that USC will be joining the Big Ten Conference. We are thankful to the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors and Commissioner Kevin Warren for the opportunity to become a member of the oldest and most storied conference in the country. We will officially begin our membership in August 2024.
We intend to end our membership in the Pac-12 conference when the Pac-12’s current media rights agreement expires in August 2024. We look forward to competing these next two years in the Pac-12 and want to express our sincerest gratitude to the conference and its member institutions for decades of wonderful experiences. The Trojans’ outstanding athletics heritage will always be synonymous with the Pac-12, and there are so many iconic moments and memories we will cherish forever. We hold the Pac-12 and our respected colleagues in the highest regard.
This is the most volatile and uncertain era in the history of American collegiate athletics. USC must ensure it is best positioned and prepared for whatever happens next, and it is our responsibility to always evaluate potential opportunities and be willing to make changes when needed. Ultimately, the Big Ten is the best home for USC and Trojan athletics as we move into the new world of collegiate sports. We are excited that our values align with the league’s member institutions. We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our passionate alumni nationwide.
For more than two years, our athletics department has been unified behind our vision to be the most student-athlete centered program in the country. Central to that mission is the responsibility to provide the necessary resources for our student-athletes to be successful on and off the playing field and ensure our student-athletes compete for championships at the highest levels and on the grandest stages. By joining the Big Ten, we are confident we will continue to deliver on this promise for our current student-athletes and generations of student-athletes who will wear the Cardinal and Gold in the future.
I am so grateful to President Carol L. Folt for her bold vision, courageous leadership, and decisive action. From the start, she and I have been unified in our goal to build an athletics department that sets the standard for supporting student-athletes. I am also appreciative of former Board of Trustees Chair Rick Caruso, new Chair Suzanne Nora Johnson, and all the other members of the Board for their unwavering support of our student-athletes and the Trojan athletics program.
The future of USC athletics is bigger, brighter, better, and more boundless than it has ever been. Every Saturday at the Coliseum will feel like the “Granddaddy of Them All!” Trojan Family, the best is yet to come.
Statement from USC Board Chair Suzanne Nora Johnson
On behalf of the USC Board of Trustees, I want to express our support to President Carol L. Folt, Athletic Director Mike Bohn, the Big Ten and the Pac-12. Throughout USC’s history, many of our traditions have been grounded in athletics and are a source of deep and unifying pride across the Trojan Family.
Over the past three years, President Folt has built a world-class leadership team and set a strong strategic vision for USC. This move is yet another example of her dedication to accomplishing ambitious goals for the university. We are grateful to her, and to Athletic Director Bohn, for solidifying USC’s place in the national athletics landscape and serving the best interests of the university’s students and other stakeholders. We are proud of the heritage the Pac-12 has helped us build, and we are looking forward to working closely with the Big Ten to create a new and exciting legacy in USC athletics.