In 2024, college sports will look a lot different than they do now. Basketball stars from Stanford will travel to North Carolina to play in-conference games, the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) may be robbed of their annual rivalry games, and the once-called “Conference of Champions” will say its final goodbye.

A max exodus from the Pac-12 this year has caused its shutdown because of mismanagement at the top of the conference. The Pac-12 commissioner, George Kliavkoff, failed to close a media deal that would give the schools sufficient media distribution, making his constituents want out.

Historically, the other “Power 5” conferences—which are the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Big Ten, and the Big 12—have brought in much more media revenue per school than the Pac-12 schools. This has been going on for a while, but last summer was the final straw.

During the summer of 2023, the big linear broadcast companies (such as ABC, ESPN, and NBC) had existent deals or made deals with the NFL and all other conferences besides the Big 12 and the Pac-12. The Big 12 was able to secure a deal with Fox and ESPN, leaving the Pac-12 with nothing. There was a proposed deal with Apple TV+, but it would have brought in significantly less than—as little as one-fifth of—the revenue of schools in other conferences.

In many people’s opinions, George Kliavkoff is solely responsible for the downfall of the conference because of his mismanagement and inability to secure a contract with a broadcasting company. Pac-12 fans are angry, accusing him of destroying 108 years of the “Conference of Champions” in just one. He was so embarrassed that while presenting the Pac-12 Conference Championship trophy to the Washington Huskies this year, he had his back to the camera. Regarding the incident, John Lund posted, “​​George Kliavkoff kept his back turned to the camera like when your mother had a death stare and you tried to scurry back out of the room like she didn’t already see you.”

Oregon State and Washington State are the only remaining teams in the Pac-12. The “Pac-2” settled with the departing teams in the courtroom, the decision being that they are now the only Pac-12 voting members. As for their scheduling, they will play games against Power 5 teams, teams from the Mountain West Conference, and one game against a team from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). They will also keep their rivalry games between Oregon University and Washington University, both now in the Big 10.

Florida State University is also trying to move conferences. They are suing the ACC over their contract's grant of rights clause, which states that Florida State gives all of its broadcast rights over to the conference (rather than it being controlled by the school). Without going to court, leaving the ACC would cost Florida State $572 million. Although several teams are joining the ACC, Florida State remains an important member of the conference, and some people are saying that the ACC may be the next to fall. However, for many schools, there are no better options elsewhere, so for now the ACC is safe.

There are mixed feelings surrounding conference realignment. The only parties happy with this change are the schools which are now able to bring in more revenue. Some fans are upset due to the loss of historic rivalries. Former rivals in the Pac-12 are splitting into different or very big conferences, like USC and UCLA. Their rivalry is the biggest game of the year for many fans, but due to the size of the Big 10, it may only take place some years. Another big issue with realignment is location. Teams in the ACC, for example, will now have to travel to both the East Coast and the West Coast, as well as Texas, now that Stanford, Berkeley, and Southern Methodist University have joined.

Overall, realignment means significantly more travel for athletes across many sports who are also earning their degrees. It is important to remember that these are still student-athletes. With all of these changes, however, it is clear that money has become the leading factor in decision-making. Sadly, something that was once a matter of school spirit has become a game of who can make the most money.