Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren made his first public comments Tuesday morning since the conference approved admission of USC and UCLA beginning in 2024, ending the schools’ nearly century-old relationship with today’s Pac-12.
Here are five takeaways from Warren’s 45-minute press conference kicking off Big Ten Football Media Days in Indianapolis:
USC and UCLA will be full members
Times UCLA beat reporter Ben Bolch was on hand at Lucas Oil Stadium and asked Warren if USC and UCLA would join as full members — meaning they would receive the same revenue split as the current 14 members.
“USC and UCLA will enter as full members,” Warren said. “They bring a lot of value to our relationship, a lot of momentum to our relationship. We look forward to welcoming them to the Big Ten family in 2024.”
“Panache” was quite the word choice. Whatever USC and UCLA and the Los Angeles market bring to the Midwest-based, now national Big Ten, it’s widely believed that their addition to the league will take the Big Ten’s next media rights package to well over $1 billion becomes.
And Warren’s vow that USC and UCLA will receive the same amount as Michigan and Ohio State from day one is welcome news for the Trojans and Bruins, who are looking to quickly gain ground on their new conference peers in collegiate sports. Arms race.
Warren has been eyeing USC, UCLA since 2019
Warren said he’s been evaluating expansion options since the day he was interviewed for the role of Big Ten commissioner, which he assumed in September 2019, succeeding longtime leader Jim Delany.
USC and UCLA, he said, have always been attractive targets for him.
“We had to think ahead about what we need to do,” Warren said. “You look at some of the graduates from USC, the Steven Spielbergs, at UCLA, Jackie Robinson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Stan Smith at USC, you think of all the different positive, powerful graduates that have a variety background. …
“In 2019, I studied every one of the universities across the country, and one of the things that stood out about USC and UCLA is that the largest group of Big Ten alumni outside of the Midwest is in Los Angeles.”
Warren wants to stay brave
Warren said in his opening remarks that the Big Ten is open to future expansion.
Of course, Warren hasn’t talked about specific schools being considered, but Notre Dame is the obvious next target.
“Where we are right now, my focus is on being realistic about the state of collegiate athletics, accepting our responsibility to shape collegiate athletics, being bold, being strong and being innovative,” Warren said. “And in terms of expansion, I get asked every day, ‘What’s next?’ It may involve future expansion, but it will happen for the right reasons at the right time, with the academic and athletic empowerment of our student-athletes at the heart of all decisions we will make. We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic. It will add additional value to our conference.”
Warren supports playoff expansion
Warren said he supports expanding the college football playoffs. He also stressed that his desire was for the playoffs to have multiple media partners and not just ESPN, which is believed to be one of the reasons the Big Ten (with Fox as its primary media partner) didn’t vote for an expanded playoff earlier this year .
“I 100% support the expansion of the college football playoffs,” Warren said. “What’s that right number, we’ll find out. I still firmly believe that we need to open it up to have multiple media partners. We need to take a holistic view and make sure we protect some of the critical bowl relationships.”
Warren said the Big Ten is “finishing our deals” in their current round of media rights negotiations and that he looks forward to an announcement sooner rather than later.
Certainly, if Notre Dame decides to join the Big Ten, those deals would take a different form than if the Fighting Irish remained football-independent after the negotiation window.
“That [financial] That’s the goal we’re looking for, we’re still working on it,” Warren said, “but like I said, even regardless of the size of the deal, what excites me the most is the creativity of what we’re going to do with our fans, our students – Deliver to athletes and their families. From a media partner perspective, I am very diligent not to focus on the money but on how we can deliver content in a way that has never been delivered in collegiate athletics before.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-07-26/takeways-big-ten-commissioner-kevin-warren Big Ten media days: Commissioner discusses adding USC, UCLA