ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 Officially Form Historic Alliance

Aug 24, 2021, 1:29 PM
Pac-12 Tournament Logo...
The Pac-12 logo on the court the first round game of the men's Pac-12 Tournament between the Oregon State Beavers and the Utah Utes on March 11, 2020, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Atlantic Coast, Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences announced a groundbreaking and historic alliance.

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren and ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips announced the alliance in a virtual press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

The alliance was unanimously approved by the presidents, chancellors and athletic directors at all 41 institutions. The three conferences will remain competitors but are committed to collaborating and providing thoughtful leadership on various opportunities and challenges facing college athletics, which includes the following:

  • Student-athlete mental health and physical health, safety, wellness and support
  • Strong academic experience and support
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Social justice
  • Gender equity
  • Future structure of the NCAA
  • Federal legislative efforts
  • Postseason championships and future formats

A scheduling component has been including in the alliance that will involve football, women’s and men’s basketball programs to create inter-conference games.

Statements From Each Commissioner

“The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 recognize the unique environment and challenges currently facing intercollegiate athletics, and we are proud and confident in this timely and necessary alliance that brings together like-minded institutions and conferences focused on the overall educational missions of our preeminent institutions,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips. “The alliance will ensure that the educational outcomes and experiences for student-athletes participating at the highest level of collegiate athletics will remain the driving factor in all decisions moving forward.”

“Student-athletes have been and will remain the focal point of the Big Ten, ACC and PAC-12 Conferences” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “Today, through this alliance, we furthered our commitment to our student-athletes by prioritizing our academics and athletics value systems. We are creating opportunities for student-athletes to have elite competition and are taking the necessary steps to shape and stabilize the future of college athletics.”

“The historic alliance announced today between the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten is grounded in a commitment to our student-athletes,” said Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. “We believe that collaborating together we are stronger in our commitment to addressing the broad issues and opportunities facing college athletics.”

No Binding Contract Between Conferences

One of the puzzling things about this alliance is that it is formed from a verbal agreement. No contract will be drawn up and it’s all built on trust.

“It’s about trust,” ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said. “It’s about we’ve looked each other in the eye, we’ve made an agreement. We have great confidence and faith, our board chairs have looked each other in the eye, and committed to the same level of support and connection to one another. Our athletics directors have done that. So if that’s what it takes to get something considerable done, then, we’ve lost our way. Of course, binding contracts serve a purpose. But at this juncture, that to us wasn’t a critical element of it. We’ll certainly see where all this goes. But I know what we discussed. We all know what we discussed and we are very confident about executing on all that’s been described today.”

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff chimed in on that question as well.

“Today is a press release,” Kliavkoff said. “But it’s also a commitment and it’s a commitment among 41 institutions. I would say what my parents taught me, which is, don’t measure me by what we say, measure us by what we do over the coming months and years and decades. I couldn’t be happier about the alliance. I’m okay with not getting a signed contract. We didn’t even focus on that, didn’t even talk about that.”

Statement From Utah AD Mark Harlan

Following the announcement, Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan released the following statement on social media:

“It’s exciting for the Pac-12 to collaborate with the incredible institutions in the Big Ten and ACC in such a profound way, aligning 41 world-class institutions,” the statement read. “To be tethered with such like-minded institutions, not only in scheduling, but in matters of governance, will be beneficial for the University of Utah and the Pac-12. This will enhance our student-athletes’ experience and bring additional value for our great fans. The specifics from a scheduling standpoint will take time to be developed, but to have that north star to point to will be a unifying feature of this alliance.”

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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